Thursday, 1 September 2016

The triumph of Olympic values in China and Brazil

The founder of the modern Olympics, Baron de Coubertin, believed that physical education was a key factor to moral education. The three pillars of Olympian idealism are said to be Excellence, Friendship and Respect. It was reassuring to read in the newspapers this morning how hosting recent Olympics has helped these values become entrenched in China (2008) and Brazil (2016) respectively.
All these values are now widely instilled in Brazil
and China thanks to hosting the Olympics

In Hong Kong, which reverted from British dependency to Chinese rule in 1997 (Margaret Thatcher's name is about as popular in HK as it is in northern England), there's a new push for independence among young people who are experiencing first hand the Chinese government's broken promise of 50 years of autonomy. In 1997, the Chinese pledged: "One country, two systems." It turns out that they lied.

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chung Ying, widely presumed to be a Communist Party stooge, has enriched himself on the territory's property market. The umbrella movement that demonstrated for free elections two years ago has been ignored. Peking is interfering in university appointments, and the independent anti-corruption commission. Critical journalists have been fired, independent newspapers bought up by Chinese concerns, and five Hong Kong publishers were kidnapped by Chinese security services, one of them on Hong Kong territory.

Excellence (in skulduggery). Friendship (be our friend or we'll shut you up). Respect (for totalitarian law, or we'll shut you down).

In Brazil, a parliamentary coup (61 votes out of 81 in the Senate) has confirmed the ouster of democratically elected President Dilma Rousseff (54 million votes in 2014). She has been usurped by the conservative right-winger Michel Temer (no votes in 2016) on the grounds that she allegedly fiddled with the figures to beautify the nation's budget deficit. Rousseff claims she was continuing a practice already put into place by her predecessors (Note: imagine how easy it would have been to cut $12 billion from the budget deficit by not staging the Olympics...)

The Rio correspondent of the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung describes the use of the statutes in the Brazilian constitution to justify Rousseff's removal as "highly controversial from a legal standpoint". 

Excellence (in flouting democracy). Friendship (with political rivals to overthrow a democratically elected leader in a dubious grab for power). Respect (for no one, least of all our own constitution). Olympic values triumph again!

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