GOODMAN: The US Should Go To The Beijing Olympics In 2022 And Beat The Chinese On Their Own Turf

Olympics (Credit: Shutterstock/StreetVJ)

Adam Goodman Contributor
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Editor’s note: We endeavor to bring you the top voices on current events representing a range of perspectives. Below is a column arguing that the U.S. should not boycott the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. You can find a counterpoint here, where CEO of DC International Advisory Steve Yates argues that the U.S. should boycott the games because of China’s human rights abuses.

We currently live in a world long on conflict yet well short on comradery, fueled by a pandemic that has isolated human interactions to zoom calls, group Netflix binging and fully masked forays to the local grocery store for a loaf of bread.

One of the few exceptions to COVID’s reign over normalcy has been seen in the world of sports. Beginning carefully and cautiously, athletes and their teams have come back into our lives with the healing balm of competition and the chattering of fans only too willing to engage any and all in defense of their hometown favorites.

Along the way, champions were crowned in every major sport, with new storylines emerging to challenge our minds and drive our hearts, giving us all a glimpse of light at the end of a very long tunnel.

We’ve had something to cheer for, all of us, but now we’re hearing anew the buzz of boycott, this time advanced by those who believe America could send a big message by shunning the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing next year. Like let’s show them up by not showing up.

This shallow reaction to deep-seated issues is the provenance of the petty, the preserve of those who play small ball in a big ball world.

Sure, we have our gripes – big ones – with the People’s Republic (Communist) China.

They cheat. They manipulate. They demand absolute conformity to authoritarian rule, and if mere proselytizing doesn’t work they’re down with sterilization and genocide (just ask the Uyghurs).

Despite claims they represent the biggest “socialist democracy” on Earth, they still command a slavers’ ship manned with state muscle and 24/7 surveillance. They make Orwellian warnings of “big brother” a walk in the park compared to Tiananmen Square.

And yes, they’re ground zero to a worldwide pandemic they now seem to be doing fine with at the expense of nearly every other nation on Earth.

For the record, there have been six Olympic boycotts in the past. To wit:

• 1956 Melbourne – eight nations boycotted, including Egypt’s protest over the Suez Crisis, and Spain’s over the Hungarian Revolution, to China beefing about Taiwan’s inclusion
• 1964 Tokyo – China (again) and North Korea shunned this one after launching a failed “counter Olympics” in Jakarta a year earlier
• 1976 Montreal – 29 nations, mostly African, sat out because New Zealand’s rugby team toured South Africa in defiance of a UN sporting ban
• 1980 Moscow – 66 boycotted; including the US, over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
• 1984 Los Angeles – 14 eastern bloc nations retaliated for the ’80 boycott
• 1988 Seoul – North Korea didn’t feel like heading south across the DMZ, and ally Cuba followed suit

So why not now?  Because it’s time America led the world by example with an Olympian act that shows we’re bigger than this, better than this, and that one way to show that is through athletic triumph. Not just ours, but the world’s.

Consider Mike Eruzione and Jim Craig, part of America’s “miracle on ice” in Lake Placid where a bunch of amateur players bested Russia’s hockey juggernaut in one of the greatest underdog stories in history.

Or Ethiopia’s indomitable Abebe Bikila who won the marathon – barefoot, and in record time – in the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Or Romania’s teenage icon Nadia Comenci scoring the first perfect 10 in women’s gymnastics.

Or the incomparable Jesse Owens, who gave Hitler a dose of diminishment by winning four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics with “dignity and grace.”

We would have missed such moments of memory if we or others had chosen to make the Olympic Games a pedestal of protest instead of a pillar of human achievement.

Let’s take China on, in a way they can’t defend with deception or manage with manipulation. Lets hit ‘em where it hurts the most: their national pride. On the ice rink and on the ski slopes.

The Olympic oath reads in part, “In the name of all the competitors, I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games…in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams.”

America could use a healthy dose of that right now. So could the world.

Adam Goodman is a national Republican media strategist and columnist. He is the first Edward R. Murrow Senior Fellow at Tufts University’s Fletcher School. Follow him on Twitter @adamgoodman3.