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Will the Olympic Flame be extinguished by Politics?

Updated on April 11, 2008

Olympic Flame Cauldron at the Olympic Stadium in Athens, Greece where the XXVIII Olympiad was held in August 2004.

The Olympic Flame at the Opening Ceremony of the Athens 2004 Summer Olympics.

The Olympic Flame represents Purity and Endeavor for Perfection.

The Olympic flame is a practice continued from the ancient Olympic Games. In Olympia (Greece), a flame was ignited by the sun and then kept burning until the closing of the Olympic Games.

The flame first appeared in the modern Olympics at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. The flame itself represents a number of things, including purity and the endeavor for perfection.

In 1936, the chairman of the organizing committee for the 1936 Olympic Games, Carl Diem, suggested what is now the modern Olympic Torch relay.

The Olympic flame is lit at the ancient site of Olympia by women wearing ancient-style robes and using a curved mirror and the sun. The Olympic Torch is then passed from runner to runner from the ancient site of Olympia to the Olympic stadium in the hosting city. The flame is then kept alight until the Games have concluded. The Olympic Torch relay represents a continuation from the ancient Olympic Games to the modern Olympics.

The Olympic Flame is first lighted from the Sun's Rays focussed on a Concaved Steel Mirror at the Ancient Temple of Hera in Olympia, Greece.

The Olympic Flame is passed on to the First Olympic Torchbearer - Alexandros Nikolaidis, the Greek Taekwondo silver medalist at the 2004 Olympic Games.

First Greek Torchbearer Alexandros Nikolaidis passed the Olympic Flame to Luo Xuejuan, 2004 Olympics swimming gold medalist who is China's First Torchbearer.

2004 Athens Olympic swimming champion Luo Xuejuan is the first Chinese Torchbearer in the Flame Relay for the Beijing Games.

Chinese President Hu Jintao lights the cauldron with Olympic torch at the welcome ceremony for the Olympic Flame and launching of the Worldwide Torch Relay.

The Olympic Torch Relay will Continue despite Political Protests

The Olympic Torch began a 130-day, 85,000-mile journey that would take it from the site of ancient Olympia in Greece to Beijing, China, where the 2008 Summer Olympic Games will begin on August 8.. The Chinese People considers this as an auspicious day - 8 8 8.

While much of the trip will be aboard a chartered jet, tens of thousands of torchbearers -- 19,400 in China alone -- will carry the flame on foot through 23 cities on five continents and then throughout China.

China's Olympic swimming gold medalist, Luo Xuejuan, will take the flame from Greece's Olympic Taekwondo silver medalist Alexandros Nikolaidis. Another 603 bearers will run the torch through Greece, culminating in Athens on March 30, where the torch will be handed over to China for a flight to Beijing.

After a ceremonial arrival in Beijing, the flame will move around the world through April. At the beginning of May, it begins a three-month trek through at least 111 Chinese cities in more than 30 provinces and regions.

In addition to visiting cities in Greece and China, runners plan to carry the torch to countries including Almaty, Kazakhstan, St. Petersburg, Russia and San Francisco, California.

The most controversial leg of the torch relay is planned for June, when it is scheduled to be carried through Tibet and three neighboring provinces where violent unrest broke out this month.

Olympic officials insist the torch relay in these areas will proceed as planned and will not detour around Tibet and nearby regions despite violent anti-Chinese protests and calls by Tibetan activists for a boycott of the Beijing games.

The flame is set to arrive in Beijing on August 6, where it will be paraded around the city until entering the stadium for the Olympics opening ceremony on August 8.

Politics have no Place in the Olympics because it is against the Olympic Principle of bringing Nations of the World together.


The upcoming Summer Olympic Games in August 2008 have become controversial much to the dismay of the International Olympic Committee. Opponents of Chinese policy in Tibet, and elsewhere, are calling for total or partial boycott of one of the world's most important sporting event.

Unruly protesters have disrupted the Olympic Flame Torch Relay in some of the European cities. In San Francisco thousands of spectators were disappointed because they were unable to watch the Relay when the route was changed and shortened in order to avoid violent incidents.

The modern Olympic Games have been tainted by politics that have more negative impact and results than positive ones.

The 1936 Summer Olympics, held in Berlin, were the first games in which politics had a major role. Hitler had used the Games to show off the new Germany and also to put forward his view that the Aryan race is superior to others and black people are inferior. American black sprinter Jessy Owens proved him wrong when he won four gold medals in track.

The 1956 Summer Olympics, held in Melbourne, were affected by numerous boycotts. Egypt, Iraq, and Lebanon boycotted in protest of the Israeli invasion of Egypt. The Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland boycotted in protest of the Soviet Union's invasion of Budapest, Hungary.

The 1968 Summer Olympics were held in Mexico City. At these games Tommie Smith and John Carlos, gold and bronze medalists, gave the black power salute during the Star Spangled Banner. This led to the two athletes being expelled from the games because their action was against the principles of the Olympic Games. See 1968 Olympics Black Power Salute

The 1972 Summer Olympics held in Munich Germany were probably the most negatively affected games. Eleven Israeli athletes were kidnapped and ultimately killed by Palestinian terrorists. The terrorists demands was the release of 234 Palestinians.

Held in Montreal, the 1976 Summer Olympics were marred with more boycotts as well as drug allegations against the East Germans. The boycotts were held out by 26 African countries because New Zealand's rugby team toured South Africa.

Another political note is that Taiwan was not allowed to compete because Canada would not recognize them as the Republic of China.

Moscow's 1980 Summer Olympics was the year of the largest boycott in Olympic history. The boycott included the USA and 61 other countries in response to the USSR's invasion of Afghanistan.

Solely in retaliation of the 1980 boycott, the USSR, East Germany, Cuba and 14 other countries boycotted the Los Angeles 1984 Summer Olympics.

This was also the first year since 1952 that China participated.

Very unfortunately we are unable to separate politics from the Olympics. Would boycotting it have a beneficial effect on the political situations they are trying to highlight? History shows that the answer is no.

Politicising the Olympics will also cause harm to the athletes. So while Tibetans are using the spotlight of the Olympics to express themselves, some countries are taking this as an opportunity to play out their own politics with China.

The Beijing Games should have a chance to be a sporting event. As former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan once said, "Olympic ideals are also United Nations ideals: tolerance, equality, fair play, and most of all, peace." The world should not be deprived of the great celebration that is the Olympics.


President Bush plans to attend the Olympic Games in Beijing

Associated Press - updated 8:22 a.m. CT, - Thurs., April. 10, 2008

WASHINGTON - President Bush has said he plans to attend the Beijing Olympics, but the White House has not ruled out the possibility that he may miss the opening ceremony, which China hopes to use as an international showcase.

Critics of China say that Bush avoiding the event would be a powerful sign of international anger over China's violent response to demonstrating Buddhist monks in Tibet. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's spokeswoman said Wednesday that Brown will not attend the opening ceremony.

Over two days, White House press secretary Dana Perino has faced questions about Bush's attendance at the opening gala for games that China hopes to use to make a statement about its rising economic and political power. She says Bush will go to the Olympics

Beijing's New Olympic Stadium where the Olympic Flame will burn continuously during the Games in August 2008.


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    • arkwriter profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Houston, Texas U.S.A.

      Thank you for your comments.  The Olympic Charter forbids athletes from involvement in politics.

      Athletes have few formal guidelines to follow when deciding whether to take a public stand while in Beijing. Rule 51 of the Olympic Charter, the constitution of the Olympic movement, forbids athletes from participating in a "demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda" at Olympic venues. When the International Olympic Committee identifies a possible violation of Rule 51, it asks the Olympic Committee of the athlete's country to investigate. Depending on the outcome, Olympians can be disqualified or sent home.

      Even the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader, does not want to separate Tibet from China and he supports the Beijing Olympics. 

      SEATTLE (Reuters) - The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, said on Friday he did not support a boycott of the Beijing Olympic Games.

      Asked on NBC “Nightly News” whether he wanted the world to boycott the Olympics this summer, the Dalai Lama replied, “No.”

      Asked if he wanted the United States and other world leaders to boycott the opening ceremony in support of Tibet, he replied, “That’s up to them.”

       It is unfortunate that presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama who urged President Bush to boycott the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games are playing political games to promote their agendas.

      But Michael Green, Bush's former Asia adviser, says the president probably will attend the opening ceremonies.

      "The problem with a boycott is you end up taking 1.3 billion Chinese — who have different views of democracy, of the U.S., of human rights, but all want the Olympics to be successful — and you turn them all against the U.S.," said Green, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank. "It's a crude and blunt instrument to just boycott."

      Bush, he added, is "stubborn when he thinks he's got the right decision."

      China is working hard to contain violence in Tibet ahead of the games. It has sent thousands of police and army troops to the region to maintain an edgy peace, hunt down protest leaders and cordon off Buddhist monasteries whose monks led protests that began peacefully on March 10 before turning violent four days later.

      Victor Cha, director of Asian studies at Georgetown University and another former White House adviser, said Bush is a "sports purist" who sees "the games as sport only, not politics."

      "He will go and will not call for a boycott," Cha said in an e-mail.

      I am glad that President Bush is wise and level headed by separating sports from politics.

      God bless you.


    • Wbisbill profile image


      10 years ago from Tennessee USA

      Thanks for the info. I think the Olympics should be politically free! However, I believe that Republicans and Democrats should get along during an election year too!

    • In The Doghouse profile image

      In The Doghouse 

      10 years ago from California


      Very conclusive information on this subject.  Thank you for sharing this information so concisely. This is definately a "hot" topic for discussion as of late.  It is a shame that this event has become an arena for political demonstration.  The athletes work so hard to get to go there, it would be a shame to ruin it for them.  I tend to agree with you on the fact that the boycotts themselves do nothing to evoke change in the situations they are representing. I guess we will just have to watch and see what unfolds.  Thanks again.


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