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Reject an Olympic boycott

July 20, 2008

Re " ... and why he should stay home," Opinion, July 13

The Olympics are for the athletes. They are the ones who put in years of intensive work; it's their moment in the sun.

The U.S. boycotted the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow because the Soviets invaded Afghanistan; the Soviet Union boycotted the 1984 Games in L.A. in retaliation. No countries gained anything politically by the boycotts, and the Olympics went on. But hundreds of American and Russian athletes had their dreams shattered. Didn't anybody think of them?

Today, many world leaders are boycotting the opening ceremonies in Beijing because of Tibet. This will not change China's policy. When the athletes march into the stadium behind the flags of their countries, it is one of the most thrilling moments of their lives. It would be respectful to them to have their leaders cheering them on. The Olympics are for the athletes, not political posturing by world leaders.

David L. Wolper

Beverly Hills

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Mia Farrow and Ronan Farrow argue that President Bush should boycott the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics; however, they fail to acknowledge that there is no way that Bush could, with a straight face, boycott the Games. This administration has revoked habeas corpus and imprisoned hundreds of men without trial, went out of its way to find legal justification for committing torture and has arranged for the torture of terrorism suspects overseas. For Bush to boycott the Beijing Olympics in protest of China's human-rights record would be like Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe boycotting to protest the lack of free and fair elections.

James Elliot

Santa Barbara

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Peaceful engagement is the smart way to push China in the right direction. China has demonstrated some improvements on media control in the recent earthquake and management of the Darfur issue. But, at this moment, a presidential boycott would be a strong symbolic statement and could intensify China's resentment toward the West. China should not interpret Bush's attendance as a sign of his unconditional support. At the same time, in keeping with the Olympic slogan of "One World, One Dream," China should avoid relegating Taiwan's status in its participation in the Games. Meanwhile, let's hope China will seize this golden opportunity to demonstrate its peaceful rising. All eyes are wide open.

Paul Chang

Arcadia

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