Drew Ginn: an Olympian’s conscience

Drew Ginn

This has been an interesting week to be an Olympic sponsor, but nobody has more of a stake in the Games than the athletes. Drew Ginn, the Australian rower, put it into perspective on Monday when he responded to a comment on his blog on why he was going to Beijing:

“This is an opportunity for all of us to realise the World is bigger than our back yard. People live in different ways and countries have operated in different ways. The impact of the Games will have both positive and negative outcomes. Hopefully there’s more of the former occurring and what I do feel strongly about is that as an athlete I will perform in the spirit that the Games was intended.”

Carter made the decision to block American athletes from participating in the 1980 Moscow Games, and some good friends of mine had their lives seriously messed up by that decision to block them from competing because of Soviet geopolitics. Politics and sport don’t mix well, but they try, and the Olympics is the most political pulpit in sport.

So, as I try to make sense of it all, I read Drew’s most recent post, about a training ride on bicycles. It’s pretty powerful:

“With each pedal stroke I tried to maintain the unsustainable speed and bit by bit my heart was pounding and attempting to keep up with the demand. At this stage I realised I could not go any quicker but was resolved to keep my speed as high as I could and with this came the deep heaving breathes that were a final indicator of being right on the limit. The last section we caught the traffic lights and as we braked I had the wonderful sense of that strange dynamic between ecstasy and agony. A twilight zone of sorts and as we continued up to the meeting point the sheer bliss was remarkable. We all chatted away and made comments about the various things that took place and all of us where very much on the limit which is why we love going out for these types of rides.”

IOC Exec Warns China Against Internet Censorship During Olympics – washingtonpost.com

IOC Exec Warns China Against Internet Censorship During Olympics – washingtonpost.com

From Staci Kramer at Paidcontent.org:

“With the Beijing Olympics roughly four months away, Kevan Gosper, vice chairman of the IOC coordinating commission, is warning organizers that the internet must be open during the games and that restrictions “would reflect very poorly” on China. AP quotes Gosper about raising the issue during the last official organizing meeting before the Beijing Olympics: “This morning we discussed and insisted again. … Our concern is that the press (should be) able to operate as it has at previous games. … There was some criticism that the Internet closed down during events relating to Tibet in previous weeks.” Gosper added: “I’m satisfied that the Chinese understand the need for this and they will do it.””

I remain optimistic that there will be open access to the critical tools need to enable our Lenovo Olympic Blogger program and that is Google’s Blogger and YouTube platforms, both of which have been particularly problematic from time to time due to the capricious nature of the “connection has been reset” phenomenon known as the Great Firewall. With the IOC permitting athlete blogs during the Games for the first time, there will be a great deal of pressure to maintain an open conduit of internet communications. With the world’s press on the scene as well as hundreds of thousands of spectators from around the world, I don’t see a tightening of access, but a relaxation.

Or at least so I hope. Fallows’ piece in the Atlantic Monthly remains the best FAQ on the situation.

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