Monday, 7 April 2008

Fallen Heroes - The London Olympic Torch Parade

Watching the news coverage of the London Olympic torch-bearing ceremony yesterday made me feel immensely proud. What was intended to be a smooth publicity fest was hijacked, despite the efforts of the government and the metropolitan police, by protesters who placed human freedoms before entertainment.

The argument that sport is somehow sacrosanct and above politics is rubbish. Sport is entertainment. You could just as well argue that business was above politics - business at least creates livelihoods; sport is in the end just games.

The Olympic Games brings political kudos and financial reward to the host nation. China is an amoral and cruelly oppressive regime which is at this moment crushing a small, gentle and moral nation in Tibet.

The policing strategy of the Met, which corralled the pro-Tibet demonstrators and tried to prevent them waving flags and displaying slogans, whilst placing no such restrictions on the heavily mobilised Chinese community, was as biased and heavy-handed as one might expect (I witnessed at first hand the inexcusably brutal police behaviour in Parliament Square on 15 September 2004).

The smug, apologistic prevarication of Brown and his ministers was as pathetic as ever.

But the sportsmen and women and 'celebs' who carried the torch yesterday put their personal interests before the plight of the Tibetan people, and in my eyes they are spineless, egotistic and morally bankrupt. Or in one or two cases, possibly just very thick.

One of the torchbearers, Duncan Goodhew, afterwards condemned the protesters, saying that it showed "how extreme things can get in this country" and that it was "such a bad example for children."

No, Mr Goodhew; for extremes look to China and Tibet. For good examples, look to those who have the moral courage to speak out in defence of an oppressed people.

Other torch bearers included Sir Steve Redgrave, Tim Henman, Konnie Huq, Dame Kelly Holmes, Denise Lewis, Sir Trevor Macdonald, Sir Clive Woodward and Dame Ellen MacArthur.

Too many honours and not enough honour.

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