I’m going to be straight-up, I love the Olympics. I always look forward to seeing people from different countries compete in sporting events that are not always televised–ski jump, bobsledding, speedskating. Most of all, I love watching the United States compete and dominate the medal count, proving time and time again that we are the best country on the face of the earth. For these reasons, I am a bit irked at the possibility of the United States boycotting the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
I completely understand the desire. China sucks. It holds a Communist government that is antithetical to American values, it is currently engaged in a genocide against Uyghur Muslims, and it has unleashed a catastrophic pandemic on the rest of the world. Even so, boycotting the Olympics is not the answer. America’s greatest Olympic victories have come with the backdrop of controversial actions by tyrannical governments.
America’s greatest Olympic victories have come with the backdrop of controversial actions by tyrannical governments.
Showing up Nazis and Communists is basically an American pastime. It goes back all the way to 1936, during the Berlin Summer Olympics. Hitler was bringing Germany back to the national stage amidst his talk of a superior Aryan race. He had intended to use the Games to showcase the dominance of his athletes. Instead, a black man, Jesse Owens, won four gold medals, the most of any athlete there. As one might expect, there was controversy over whether America should send its athletes into Nazi Germany. In 1933, there were reports that Jewish athletes were being mistreated by the government. As a result, many in America called for a boycott. However, FDR did not heed them. If he had, history would have been deprived of Jesse Owens’ public rebuttal of Hitler’s racist ideas.
Another instance of international American athletic dominance happened at the 1980 Winter Olympics. A few months before the Games were set to commence, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. In response, President Carter led Western countries in a boycott against the Summer Olympics that took place in Moscow the same year (this was back when the Winter and Summer Games were on the same schedule). There was a fear that, if the US would not go to Moscow, the Russians would not attend the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY. Unfortunately for the Soviets, they walked right into the lion’s den, thinking they could beat us on our own turf. Instead, the United States Men’s Ice Hockey Team, led by coaching legend Herb Brooks, shattered the Russian hockey dominance, as recounted in the film Miracle. Which of these events is more memorable, a boycott that, in the end, accomplished nothing, or one of the greatest Olympic triumphs in history, one that filled Americans with patriotism?
Which of these events is more memorable, a boycott that, in the end, accomplished nothing, or one of the greatest Olympic triumphs in history, one that filled Americans with patriotism?
The best way to win is to beat a rival on its home field. We should go break the hearts of the Chinese Communist Party’s fans wherever they are. We have a situation similar to when a fanbase is talking smack online. The worst of it has come from the Twitter account of Chinese state-affiliated journalist Chen Weihua. Back in December, he called Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) “a lifetime bitch.” Most recently, he called AOC an “Absurd Ominous Clown.” The conflict between America and China is deeper than these petty insults. At the heart of this competition is the question of whether freedom or authoritarianism is the best way forward. We’ve answered that question in the past. Let’s do it again.