Historically, Olympic Games were a great event in the life of the society. Initially, Olympic Games took place in ancient Greece, where they were the main event of socio-cultural life of the ancient Greek society. However, the decline of the ancient Greek civilization resulted in the end of the tradition of Olympic Games. In fact, Olympic Games remained totally forgotten by people until the late 19th century, when the tradition of ancient Greeks was renewed and in the 20th century Olympic Games took place regularly and, today, they are not less and probably even more significant than Olympic Games of ancient Greece (Buchanan, 122). At any rate, now, the overwhelming majority of countries from different parts of the world participate in Olympic Games, while, in ancient Greece, only sportsmen from the Hellenistic world could take part in the competitions. At the same time, along with the growth of the popularity of Olympic Games, this sport event has acquired a political meaning. In fact, Olympic Games influenced politics even in ancient Greece since Greek stopped military operations during Olympic Games, while, today, Olympic Games is a perfect tool a country can use to demonstrate its current achievements, its potential and show the entire world its power. As a result, Olympic Games become a tool of a political struggle and, in this respect, the last Olympic Games in China have proved the fact that Olympic Games are, above all, a politically significant event, since China used Olympic Games to show its power and achievements, while, in actuality, China oppresses severely human rights and liberties.
I strongly believe that the decision of the International Olympic Committee to choose China as the home country for Olympic Games 2008 was determined by economic and political factors. In fact, developed countries of the world, such as countries of the EU, the USA and other countries, could use Olympic Games in China for their own profits because China was unprepared for Olympic Games 2008. Therefore, the country needed to build the stadium, residential area and infrastructure to organize Olympic Games in Beijing. At the same time, it proves beyond a doubt that China could not construct the new stadium and develop its infrastructure without the assistance of foreign companies and specialists from developed, democratic countries of the world. I think that representatives of developed countries could not be ignorant of this fact. Hence, they were conscious of possible benefits of the organization of Olympic Games in China for their own countries. At this point, it is already possible to speak about the decision to organize Olympic Games in China as a purely political decision based on economic motives because representatives of developed countries, who are very influential in the International Olympic Committee, were not interested financially to choose China as a home country for Olympic Games 2008, but they took the political decision because it opened the way to European and American companies to the Chinese market. In actuality, many European companies have participated in the reconstruction of Chinese capital and construction of the stadium and local infrastructure.
In this respect, it is worth mentioning the fact that the reconstruction was really enormous in Beijing because huge blocks of the city were totally reconstructed. Many ancient buildings were totally destroyed and, instead, new, modern buildings were constructed. Naturally, such a reconstruction needed huge investments and companies contracted by the Chinese government could and did gain considerable profits. Therefore, it would be logical to presuppose that European and American companies, which were directly or indirectly involved into the reconstruction of Beijing and development of the local infrastructure, could benefit from the decision taken by the International Olympic Committee.
Along with economic factor, I would single out political factor. From the political point of view the desire of China to organize Olympic Games 2008 in Beijing seems to me quite logical and natural, but, what I cannot understand at all is the support of Beijing by representatives of democratic countries of the world. In fact, such a decision of representatives of democratic countries of the world in the International Olympic Committee is absolutely illogical in the context of the current criticism of China from the part of western political leaders. It is worth mentioning the fact that various international organization, such as Human Rights Watch, and political leaders of different countries of the world, including the USA, repeatedly accused China in the violation of human rights and liberties. As the matter of fact, the problem of the violation of human rights in China is a permanent problem of this country. Typically, for an authoritarian, undemocratic country, the ruling regime in China is grounded on the oppression of its own citizens who are used by the regime as tools to maintain its political power.
Obviously, in such a context, representatives of democratic countries in the International Olympic Committee supported the undemocratic regime ruling China at the moment. In fact, the International Olympic Committee, a respectable international organization, actually recognized China as equal to democratic countries where Olympic Games took place before. At this point, I would like to remind the epoch of the Cold War and Olympic Games in Moscow in 1980 when democratic countries of the world took a motivated, political decision and ignored Olympic Games in the USSR (Young, 234).
Frankly, speaking I expected that political leaders of democratic countries would take the same or similar decision in 2008 and sportsmen and sportswomen from democratic countries of the world would ignore Olympic Games in Beijing. However, democratic countries or, to put it more precisely, their political leaders did not even attempt to oppose to Olympic Games in China and practically distanced from the decision of the International Olympic Committee, though I am convinced that the political effect of Olympic Games in Beijing would be absolutely different if democratic countries ignored the Games. At the same time, I think that the unwillingness of democratic countries to sabotage Olympic Games in China is a demonstration of double standards of the contemporary western politics.
For instance, at the beginning of the 1990s Yugoslavian sportsmen and national teams were disqualified from all the competitions which they participated in because of the violation of human rights and civil war in the country.
However, less than a couple of decades have passed and democratic countries do not only fail to disqualify Chinese sportsmen and national teams from all the competitions, but also participate in Olympic Games organized in China in 2008. In such a way, democratic countries showed that the violation of human rights by Yugoslavia is punishable, while the violation of human rights by China is not only non-punishable but China also got a chance to organize Olympic Games, a reward, many countries can only dream of.
As for me, the decision to allow China to organize Olympic Games was paradoxical, taking into consideration the fact that on the eve of the Olympic Games China severely oppressed the liberation movement in Tibet. In such a context, the position of democratic countries is just inexplicable to me, because the Chinese authority used the military force against the population of Tibet struggling for its independence from China. I believe that the use of military force is absolutely unacceptable for the country, which organizes Olympic Games, especially taking into account the historical tradition of stopping military operations during Olympic Games.
At this point, it is important to underline that the decision to organize Olympic Games in China provoked extremely controversial reactions in democratic countries. On the one hand, political leaders of democratic countries distanced from Olympic Games in Beijing, while, on the other hand, many public organizations and ordinary citizens of democratic countries organized active protests against Olympic Games in China. In such a way, it is possible to speak about a strong opposition within democratic countries to Olympic Games in Beijing. Moreover, many people attempted to draw the public attention to the problem of the violation of human rights in China. To achieve this goal, they organized protests accompanying the ceremonies of carrying the Olympic fire in different countries of the world. However, the most active protests were organized in Europe and the USA as well as some other democratic countries.
I suppose that in such a way people attempted to convince political leader of their country to change their view on Olympic Games in China and raise the public to the mass protests against participation of sportsmen from democratic countries in Olympic Games 2008 in Beijing. But, in spite of all the efforts, the authorities of democratic countries ignored public protests.
In such a situation, China turned out to be the country which benefited the most from Olympic Games. In fact, I think that the decision of the International Olympic Committee to let China organize Olympic Games in Beijing and the participation of democratic countries in the Games was a great political victory of China. Obviously, the Chinese authorities viewed Olympic Games as an important political event. At this point, I would distinguish two political levels on which Olympic Games in Beijing were particularly significant.
First of all, on the international level, China was accepted by the world community as a country equal to all the others, including democratic countries. Consequently, the world community supported the regime ruling in China that was probably the ultimate goal of the Chinese authorities when they have just started the pursuit for gaining the right to organize Olympic Games in Beijing. Moreover, there was another victory of China on the international level since protests of opponents of the ruling regime in China were ignored by the authorities of all countries. This means that the world community ignored the problem of the violation of human rights in China and the oppression of the liberation in Tibet. Such actions of the world community cannot be interpreted as the support of actions of China in Tibet because, instead of refusing from participation in Olympic Games in Beijing, democratic countries either kept in secret the route of carrying the Olympic fire or simply arrested those who protests against the violation of human rights in China and Tibet.
On the second level, it is possible to speak about the political victory of China on the domestic level. What is meant here is the fact that Olympic Games in Beijing was a considerable stimulus for Chinese people since the Games proved that China is one of the leading nations in the world and the country is able to organize Olympic Games.
Obviously, Olympic Games united the nation and, what is even more important, the population of China practically admired political leaders of the country and the ruling regime transformed from a undemocratic into a successful regime which has managed to achieve a tremendous success on the international level. At the same time, Olympic Games in Beijing weakened the opposition within the country consistently, which may be viewed as another political victory of the Chinese authorities. The popularity of the Communist regime in China has increased dramatically due to Olympic Games and the opposition to this regime did not meet the support of large masses of the local population.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that Olympic Games in China proved the political significance of the Games. In fact, more than two thousand years after the first Olympic Games in ancient Greece, Olympic Games are still politically important. However, the political impact of Olympic Games is not always positive because the last Olympic Games in Beijing contributed to the strengthening of undemocratic regime in China, which violates human rights and oppresses the opposition.