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Russia vs China

February 17, 2014

You will not find many people who would disagree that the Olympics of 2012 was fabulous. It was well organised, had stunning venues and facilities, had beautiful and iconic backdrops and had character and heart. I think it’s also fair to say that the Beijing Olympics were… pretty good. Full of communist iconography, well drilled and polite volunteers and amazing sport. But, to be frank it did lack soul.

China, as many of us know, has an appalling human rights record. Ranging from murdering protestors in cold blood to abhorrent treatment of the disabled and unwanted children, to the oppression of women and the vile treatment of small Tibetan neighbours. But, to my knowledge there was very little fuss when they won the bid. In fact, all the major world leaders cheerfully attended the opening ceremony and smiled broadly at the assembled mass media.

So, please tell me why, when Russia won the Olympics slightly less sexy brother, the Winter Olympics, did society rise up in horror, citing human rights – especially those of gay people, as a massive issue?

I am not suggesting that Russia is an angel, far from it. I am not saying that their gay rights policy is healthy and wholesome because it isn’t. But is Russia’s human rights record any better than China’s? Bad enough for world leaders to boycott the opening ceremony? Or is it simply the case that said world leaders just aren’t into skiing.

Of course, the real unpalatable truth is that Russia is seen as a soft target. The Russian bear’s roar is no longer that loud. Of late the UK have bent over backwards to accommodate the Chinese, champing at the bit to gain their trade and favour. On top of this, Chine are in an interesting part of the world and have both a massive army and nuclear weapons.

I just wish that the UK, the US, France and other major powers had enough courage to stand-up for the repressed and say, “China, you really shouldn’t have the games.”

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