Canada’s diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics a sign of ‘progress,’ athletes say

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Canadian Olympian Angela Schneider recalls how she felt when she learned that the Soviet Union and several Eastern Bloc nations were boycotting the 1984 Olympics.

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“I cried that day because I thought … (in the future), there would be an asterisk next to them at these Games,” said Schneider, who competed in those games and won silver in Coxed Four Rowing.

“No matter how well we do … it will always be with merit that people will say, ‘But the Soviets weren’t there, the East Germans weren’t there.'”


Although rare, Olympic boycotts do happen. One surrounded the 1984 Los Angeles Games, which were seen as retaliation by the former Eastern Bloc countries on the former Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan to boycott the 1980 Moscow Games, led by the West.

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Now nearly 40 years later, the clouds of boycotts over the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics are looming large.

Canada on Wednesday joined its allies – which include the United States, Australia and New Zealand – in deciding not to send government officials to the upcoming Games over the country’s human rights abuses, particularly against the Uighur ethnic minority. Other countries are also expected to bow down.

“The all-out boycott is devastating for athletes who have spent years preparing to compete,” Schneider said, but Canada’s decision to join the diplomatic boycott is a sign of “progress.”

“From an athlete’s perspective, it gives options back to athletes,” said Schneider, who is also director of the International Center for Olympic Studies at Western University.

“Athletes can decide whether they’re going to leave, and I think that’s important because it’s a moral choice and when a decision is made for you, it’s no longer your moral choice.”

Trudeau spoke about China’s human rights abuses when announcing Canada’s decision on Wednesday.

China has also been criticized by world leaders for quelling internal dissent and the arbitrary detention of two Michaels – who have since been released – which was widely seen as hostage.

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“We have been very clear about our deepest concerns about human rights violations over the past several years, and this is a continuation of expressing our deepest concerns about human rights violations,” Trudeau said.

China warned of retaliation in response to the boycott, saying the United States, which is leading the movement, would “pay the price” for its decision. It continues to deny all allegations of human rights abuses.

The last time Canada boycotted the Olympic Games altogether was in 1980 in Moscow. No athletes were present.

This time, Foreign Minister Melanie Jolie told reporters whether going to the Beijing Olympics needed to be dealt with “diplomatically”.

“Our athletes have worked very hard to get there. They have hours to train, they have traveled the world, they have competed, and it is normal for them to have a chance to really get ahead and compete in the Olympic Games, said Jolly.

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“This is a situation that needs to be dealt with diplomatically, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

Olympian Bruce Kidd, who represented Canada in athletics at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, told Granthshala News that he supports a diplomatic boycott.

“It’s an interesting idea to navigate between the rock – our panic over the human rights abuses in China and what to do about it – and the difficult place of not going to the Olympics,” said Kidd, who is also professor emeritus of sports and Toronto. Public policy in university.

“We have to find a way to express our concern and lobby against abuse and at the same time continue to play internationally, which I think is a blessing to mankind as a whole.”

Kidd said most of the athletes he spoke with want to compete in Beijing, but he is aware of the controversies surrounding China.

“Canadian athletes’ eyes are completely wide open, and it’s the moral dilemma you create; most of them are saying, ‘Let’s go, we’ve been planning and training for this for a very long time,'” ‘ They said.

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A Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) official told Granthshala News that participating in the Olympics is a personal choice, and no athlete is obligated to compete based on any agreement with the COC or the International Olympic Committee.

Kidd added for the athletes who go, he hopes that if they decide to speak out against China, their rights to free speech are protected.

The safety of Canada’s top athletes is also top-notch for the federal government.

Jolie said the Royal Canadian Mounted Police would work with the Canadian Olympic Committee to protect the athletes. He added that preparations will also focus on ensuring that on-site consular support is available.

Sports Minister Pascale Saint-Onge said additional staff had been hired to help with that work.

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“Everything will be done to make sure the athletes are safe,” Saint-Onge said.

In Schneider’s view, many athletes only have one shot at competing in the Olympics, so it’s best to avoid boycotts.

“A boycott is never a good thing from an athlete’s point of view, but a diplomatic boycott is a different thing and I don’t think it’s going to have the same impact on the potential participation of athletes and the cause of the Games,” she said.

“The primary objective of the Olympic Games is to elevate ourselves to a higher standard of human excellence, and to challenge, respect, honor and celebrate one another.

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