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With great fanfare and celebration, China bid the world welcome

August 17, 2008

The Olympic Games are "pure" sport, not a forum for governments to promote their own policies or crack down on opponents, right? Wrong. The Chinese communist government has decided that those who oppose its policies are not welcome at the games in Beijing.

American Joey Cheek, who won a gold medal in speed skating at the 2006 winter games, had planned to go to Beijing. Last week, Chinese officials informed him that his visa has been revoked.

Cheek happens to be the co-founder of a group of athletes calling themselves "Team Darfur." They hope to call public attention to atrocities being committed by militias in the Darfur region of Sudan, possibly with that government's complicity.

But Cheek had planned no public protests in Beijing. He had said that he merely wanted to support the 70 or so Team Darfur athletes competing in this year's games.

China has economic interests in Sudan and ties to that country's government and does not want to upset the regime. So, simply to make that point publicly, it has banned Cheek.

So much for the "purity" of sport at the Olympic Games.



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