An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
HERE’S A TALE of two Olympics.
If all goes well, Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Games later this year. Not far away, Beijing is preparing for the 2022 Winter Games.
As Canada makes plans for both, some decidedly non-sports considerations have come into play. One is the COVID-19 pandemic and the other involves politics.
With the pandemic raging, Japan is nevertheless determined the Games that were postponed last year will go ahead this year. The big question is how to do it safely.
Rigorous testing will be done on participants but, so far, anti-COVID vaccinations won’t be mandatory.
Despite that, outspoken Canadian member of the IOC Dick Pound says our athletes should be moved up the priority list for receiving the jab.
As long as Canadian athletes don’t do our elderly out of their turn, it’s actually a good idea. We could really use an Olympic Games this year. We need some cheering up and a couple of weeks rooting for our best and enjoying the spirit of competition would be a great thing for the national mood.
So, let’s make our athletes as safe as we possibly can, and that includes vaccinations.
China, however, is an entirely different situation. There are international calls to boycott the Beijing Games in protest of China’s abysmal human rights record. Again, Pound comes down on the side of Canada’s participation, saying the Games should be free of political considerations. Other Canadian Olympics officials agree with him.
I beg to differ. As long as Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig continue to be detained by the Chinese, we shouldn’t even consider taking part in those Games. The choice is simple: standing up for two of our citizens and countless others suffering human rights abuses in that country, or taking part in a big sporting event.
Our conscience shouldn’t allow us to do both, and Justin Trudeau should step in and say no to Beijing.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.