Herod's Olympiad

The disappointing news from Britain in the article linked here is unfortunately just the first in a number of such political compromises we will see in coming months as the world amps up for this summer’s Beijing Olympics. British athletes going to China, CNN reports, "will have to sign a contract promising not to comment on any politically sensitive issues." The Olympics are an opportunity for the world to celebrate our common humanity, and so on the face of it any policy which prohibits athletes from mentioning divisive issues is laudable; there are times when we should leave behind our divisions and celebrate our God-given athletic gifts. This time around, however, the "politically sensitive issues" are not just arguments over freedom of the press or international policy disputes. China’s record on human rights is abysmal, and not just with regard to the aforementioned issues. The "one child" policy under which parents are punished for large families is still enforced in China, and the primary method by which this policy is implemented is mandatory abortion after the first child. Not even the most fervent advocate for legal abortion would support this Orwellian attack on human life and parental choice. In my own time in China several years ago, I was struck repeatedly by the "reversed-pyramid" structure that is overtaking Chinese family life--a child with two parents, four grandparents, multiple aunts and uncles...and not a single sibling or first cousin. Where are their brothers and sisters? Most of them, one must assume, fell victim to governmental insistence on abortions after the first child. To tell our athletes to keep mum for the sake of politesse in the face of this situation is at best a weak concession to keeping the peace, and at worst a form of material cooperation with government-approved atrocities. Who will stand up to China before August’s events? Or have we become so blasé about abortion that we consider it nothing more than a "politically sensitive issue"? Read it here Jim Keane, SJ
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