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The Olympic Spirit is bleeding

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I clearly remember the agony of international media before the 2004 Athens Olympics. Thousands of words were written about the possibility of a terrorist attack in Athens or of Greece's supposed incapability to be ready for the games.These fears were finally proven wrong and unfounded, as long as the 28th Olympiad, organized by a small nation, was one of the most successful in modern history. Now, four years later, it is powerful China's chance to host the greatest celebration of Humanity.

On that point, there are two issues: Firstly, China's effort to show a brand new face to the world with Beijing Olympics to be the starting point and secondly, the recent armed conflict between Moscow and Tbilisi in South Ossetia. Despite organizers' remarkable efforts, despite the truly spectacular opening ceremony of August 8th, it becomes clear that this year's games will unfortunately remain in our memory not for being well-organized, but for the preposterous unwillingness of some governments to honour the Olympic Truce. Its not only China's controversy with Tibet or the situation in Burma; furthermore, the present armed conflict between Russian and Georgian forces show us that there are governments which flashily ignore the so-called Olympic spirit of peace. Shameful, isn't it?

The crisis in South Ossetia consists of a direct, indefensible and distressing injury to the meaning of Olympic Games itself. Despite the festive mood in Beijing, the international community cannot ignore the doubtful political environment which, unfortunately, overshadows the XXIX Olympiad. And while althetes from all over the world participating in the thriumph of emulation, people in Ossetia, in Burma and in Palestine, in Darfur and Tibet still live under the breathless hush of peace. That could be the possible defeat of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

How weird and regrettable it is! Indeed, the impressive Olympic venues and the praiseworthy effort of Chinese people to organize memorable games might be overshadowed by violence and war, by the deep depreciation of Human Rights. For that shame, responsibility belongs to those leaders who are used in hypocritical magniloquences - some of these leaders were present in Beijing's 'Bird Nest' during the opening ceremony of the Olympics. They do owe an apology to the bleeding Olympic Spirit and to all of us who believe in its noble ideals.

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Aris Claras is a writer based in Greece.


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