Hilzoy over at Obsidian Wings is angry about the fact that athletes are going to have to compete in the horrible Chinese smog, where they can’t be at their best (heck, where they stand a good chance of not finishing their events). This is understandable, because people like watching the Olympics; they’re fun and at their best moments display the potential for nobility inherent within the human spirit, which no doubt is what Pierre de Coubertin intended.
But make no mistake: if we have to watch athletes wheezing their way through events, turning the Olympics into a joke? Well, it’s really no less than we deserve. We’re all of us wholly complicit in China’s environmental rape. Nobody forced us to go buy cheap Chinese-made goods, but we did. (And seriously – try avoiding them. IKEA’s goods are all almost Chinese-made now, for heaven’s sake. You go to IKEA, you expect stuff to be Swedish, but no.) And we can pretend all we like that giving China the Olympics was done in the hope that their society would open up, but all that’s happened instead is the party leadership treating the Olympics as a propaganda opportunity and cracking down even more harshly on dissidents. How we’re supposed to be surprised by that happening is beyond me.
So maybe these Olympics should really, really suck. Maybe then we’ll learn something about the limits of the healing power of sport, or at the very least about the wholly scummy, sycophantic nature of the International Olympic Committee. Maybe then.