Tomorrow brings the much anticipated--and much protested--debut of the Beijing Olympics. I think I've made my feelings about this clear. But just in case anyone missed it, I'm climbing back up onto my cyber-podium to draw attention to the darker side of the 2008 Games.
Witness: U.S. Olympian and gold medal winner, speed skater Joey Cheek. Cheek is an athlete and an activist. After winning his gold in 2006, he announced that he was donating his Olympic winning stipend to refugees of the Darfur conflict. He is so committed to this cause that he is a co-founder of Team Darfur, an "international coalition of athletes committed to raising awareness about and bringing an end to the crisis in Darfur, Sudan."
Cheek had planned to attend the upcoming Games as an Olympic Alumnus and speaker. He received his visa from the Chinese government on July 1 of this year.
Beijing revoked the visa 24 hours before Cheek was supposed to leave, without explanation. Beijing asserted that they did not need a reason to revoke the visa. To the free world, the reason is clear: Cheek is a dissident. A free thinker. A problem.
This is the reality of the current host country of these International Games, Games which exist to celebrate human achievement and ambition, qualities in direct opposition to oppression and violence.
I urge every one of you, as mothers, as citizens of the world, to stop and acknowledge the oppressive, destructive, virulent reality of Beijing. They are powerful, they are wealthy, and they have no regard for the individual. This is the Communist legacy, in all its terrible reality. And as the world turns to Beijing waving flags and cheering, this truth should not be forgotten.
A small, but meaningful, silver-lining is that Lopez Lamong, a Sudanese conflict survivor and member of the U.S. Olympic team has been chosen by U.S. team captains to carry the American flag in tomorrow's ceremonies. Let him be a walking reminder to the world of what Beijing stands for.
Want to know more about it? Check out NPR's report. Or Free Tibet.