Pressure to boycott Opening Ceremonies

March 31, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The politics of the Olympic Games is once again a contact sport. There is new pressure on President Bush to boycott the opening ceremonies in Beijing.

President Bush has said he views the Olympics as a sporting event and he will not boycott the Opening Ceremonies, but those comments aren't stopping Nancy Pelosi from pressing the president on the issue.

In an interview with Good Morning America that aired on Tuesday, April 1, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to make her case that President Bush should skip the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in August.

"Well I think boycotting the Opening Ceremony which really gives respect to the Chinese Government is something that should be kept on the table. I think the President may want to rethink this later depending on what other heads of state do," said House Speaker Pelosi.

Talk of a boycott has gained traction in recent weeks, amid China's violent crackdown on protesters in Tibet.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has already said she's skipping the Opening Ceremonies as a result of the recent developments, and the leaders of Poland and the Czech Republic are following suit. However, if President Bush were to do the same, the move could be counterproductive.

"They would take this is a real slap in the face on an event they've preparing for quite some time," said San Francisco State Professor Jean-Marc Blanchard.

Blanchard is the Associate director of the University's Center for U.S.-China policy studies. He believes a boycott by Mr. Bush could undo years of talks between the two countries.

"The U.S. works with China on so many different issues from North Korea, to trade, to the War on Terror and the like, and while China doesn't have to oppose, they certainly could stonewall or not make progress with the United States on various issues," said Blanchard.

Either way, the people here at the Massialas Foundation in San Francisco say politics and sports shouldn't mix, especially at the Olympic Games, which was founded on that premise.

Fencer Greg Massialas was the victim of politics back in 1980 when President Carter announced the entire U.S. team would boycott the Moscow Games.

"When you start getting politics involved in it, it really helps ruin a lot of the great things that happen with the sport. Not just the sport, all sports and the Olympic Games as a whole. In my opinion I think the Olympics are where the countries can come together as opposed to being divisive," said Massialas.

Pelosi is also urging the International Olympic Committee to use its influence to pressure China. She wants the IOC to insist that China honor the commitment it made to improve its record on human rights.