As the Beijing Olympic Games approach, it’s increasingly clear that China, under the control of the Chinese Communist Party, does not deserve an Olympic showcase. Because it’s too late to move the Winter Games, some have proposed, understandably, that the United States boycott the Games.
China’s list of human rights violations is long, and the country deserves our condemnation. But prohibiting American athletes from competing in China would be the wrong response. Our athletes have trained their entire lives for this competition and have primed their abilities to peak in 2022. When I helped organize the Salt Lake City Games in 2002, I gained an understanding of the enormous sacrifice made by our Olympic hopefuls and their families. It would be unfair to ask a few hundred young American athletes to shoulder the burden of our disapproval.
It could also be counterproductive. The Olympic Games aren’t just a showcase for the host nation, but a platform for values both American and universal. We would lose the global symbolism of our young American heroes standing atop the medals podium, hands to their hearts, as “The Star-Spangled Banner” plays on Chinese soil.