Friday, August 08, 2008

The Olympics and Team Darfur

I LOVE the Olympics, and I am really trying to get into the spirit. In fact, I'm having friends over for dinner tonight to watch the opening ceremonies. But those Chinese government officials are really workin' my last nerve...

As you may have heard, they have revoked the visa of Joey Cheek, former US Olympic speedskater and founder of Team Darfur. While the government did not give a formal reason, it is most likely because he spoke publicly about China's involvement in the Darfur genocide. The Chinese government has revoked the visas of several other athletes who are involved in Team Darfur, an organization that encourages athletes to help raise awareness of the crisis in Darful.

There was a good opinion piece in the Washington Post about this on Wednesday. Sally Jenkins wrote:

Cheek has been exceptionally careful to frame his organization as more of a charitable and humanitarian endeavor rather than a political one, and unlike the most passionate Darfur advocates, he never has advocated a boycott of the 2008 Games. He's not a firebrand, he's just a do-gooder -- and an intelligent, committed one at that.

But when his visa was suddenly revoked Tuesday -- without a reason -- Cheek spoke out boldly. "The denial of my visa is a part of a systemic effort by the Chinese government to coerce and threaten athletes who are speaking out on behalf of the innocent people of Darfur," he said.

I wonder how this will play out during the rest of the games - and I wonder if our President, who is attending the Opening Ceremonies, will have anything to say about it.

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