I’m of two minds, or perhaps several, about the protests dogging the Olympic Torch relay before it homes in on China. Yes, there are very valid reasons to protest what China has been doing. However, for me the Torch Relay is much more about the world’s participation in something together. I don’t see it as the the world’s participation in turning a blind eye to China’s human rights abuses. If there’s a wedding in your family, and the reception is going to be hosted by someone you find odious, should family members refuse to go? Scorn the bride and groom? Who are the Olympics for?
We Americans have been scoffing at the Olympics lately, mainly due to the telenovela-style media coverage that America’s been subjected to for the past decade or so. Lots of hype, lots of human-interest drama. If an American athlete has battled cancer, or has recently lost a family member, s/he is virtually guaranteed non-stop coverage of her/his “struggle.” (of course, if an athlete has lost a limb, and now wins a gold in the Para-Olympics, well, yawn, we don’t care about that.) No wonder so many of us hate the circus when it comes around again.
But the rest of the world doesn’t seem to get beaten over the head by all that. I get stations via satellite from Austria, Germany, a few from Italy and France, and the English-language cable news stations (CNN International, Sky News, BBC World, NBC Europe.) Mostly I watch the German stations, and their Olympic coverage, like all their sports coverage, is fairly matter-of-fact and free of the droning on about someone’s personal problems (you can get all that in the tabloid newspapers, don’t worry.)
So I’ve been following the relay and the protest route, and today there’s a lock-down in India as the torch moves through New Delhi. 15,000 police have been dispatched to keep order. A parallel protest torch relay will occur while the relay is underway.
One of the participants in the relay through New Delhi will be Indian film superstar Aamir Khan, one of my favorite screen heartthrobs (the other being Alan Rickman.) Go Aamir!