The Olympic Ideal???

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Photo Credit – Losmininos

I usually do not give the Olympic Games much thought. On the whole I am not a great fan of the concept, but it usually does not bother me too much. This year’s games are different however. Human rights are an important issue to me and I have felt a large degree of animosity towards the hype of the games in the mainstream media and the lack of attention China’s human rights record has received.

I would like to point out here, that I am acutely aware that Australia’s track record is not perfect. (We have only just seen moves to end mandatory detention of refugees here last week.) But the hype of the Olympics and how my children see this is a concern to me.

A couple of months ago, I raised my concerns with my eldest child. He considered my concern for a few moments and then as children will, tried to determine what was the impact of my concern on him.

“Are you going to not let me watch the Olympics?”

Part of me would have liked to say yes, but in all honestly other than depriving him of school playground conversation, I am not sure if that would have achieved all that much. Instead we talked about what were some other alternatives.

In the end we agreed that for he and Little Rascal, I would share with them news articles which were giving an honest assessment of what was happening in the lead up and then during the Games. This would supplement what ever other information they were absorbing on this topic.

As such the two older children have learnt the following in the last few months:

    – From BBC world that millions have been evicted from their homes to make way for Olympic development.
    From The Age that black people and Mongolians are not to be served in bars in the lead up or during the Games
    – From Amnesty International that Yahoo handed over information to Chinese authorities, that saw Shi Tao imprisoned for 10 years for sending an email.
    – And from The Age again, the most recent fuss to make the media headlines (but which has been around for a long time) censorship of the internet by the Chinese Government.

The Olympic Games have been incorporated into the children’s learning at school and they are having a mini Olympics on Friday afternoon. Understanding the “Olympic Ideal” and the philosophy behind the game does not bother me, the Games are part of our ancient and modern history and need to be understood.

But as a politically interested and active person, I will continue to discuss China and other human rights issues with the children. I am trying to get a balance between not burdening them with too much information, but still creating awareness of contentious, important issues. Not sure if the scales are even just yet, but I will keep trying to tinker until I get them to balance!

How do you approach issues like the Beijing Olympics vs Human Rights?