Special to OutKick
Representing the United States as an athlete within the 1992 Winter Olympics was one of many proudest moments of my life. Fourteen years later, I had the dignity of being part of the official U.S. delegation to the Torino Games in 2006. As a former Olympian and U.S. delegate, I’ve seen firsthand the onerous work and dedication it takes to compete and wouldn’t wish to punish the athletes by boycotting this yr’s Beijing Olympics.
Unfortunately, our leaders try to silence our athletes and are fully letting the Communist Chinese authorities off the hook.
The day earlier than the opening ceremony in Beijing, Speaker Pelosi warned our athletes to not threat “incurring the anger” of the Chinese authorities by criticizing China. I requested myself, “What is she hoping to accomplish? Why is she saying this now?”
By attempting to silence our athletes, was she actually fearful about their security, or was she extra involved about upsetting Chinese officers? Calling China names from a podium in Washington, D.C. after our athletes had already landed in China did completely nothing. Controlling speech is a part of the Communist playbook. Sadly, Speaker Pelosi performed proper alongside.
The Speaker’s “warning” additionally bothered me as a result of it was an pointless distraction for our athletes. These women and men have devoted their whole lives to changing into the most effective at their sport and must be targeted on competing and representing their international locations properly. They must be getting ready for his or her occasions, not attempting to guess what they’ll and may’t say out loud.
Unfortunately, the censorship will doubtless proceed lengthy after the video games have ended. Olympians who wish to land sponsorships with main firms that do enterprise in China will likely be pressured to remain quiet about China’s abuses. Athletes is usually a highly effective voice for change, however many will likely be pressured to decide on between exercising their Constitutional proper to talk out about China’s crimes or saying nothing to allow them to earn a residing. They shouldn’t be put on this place.
The first mistake was the International Olympic Committee’s determination to pick out Beijing because the host of the 2022 Games. They made this determination despite the fact that they knew concerning the genocide, internment camps, and slave labor. If U.S. officers pushed again, they didn’t push onerous sufficient. Perhaps the IOC felt they didn’t have a lot of a alternative. I feel they took the simple approach out.
Gian Franco Kasper, an honorary IOC member, mentioned Beijing made excellent sense as a result of “dictators can organize events such as this without asking the people’s permission. For us, everything is easier in dictatorships.”
However, this isn’t the American approach. We have an obligation to indicate the world that “easier” within the short-term doesn’t justify the long-term value, notably when that value is paid with harmless human lives.
The pandemic gave the IOC a possibility to right their mistake and swap from the “easy” path to the proper one. They might have postponed the video games and regarded for an alternate web site. Instead, they went forward with plans to reward the nation whose actions triggered a lot loss of life and destruction all through the world.
Now, we hear studies that athletes in Beijing who’ve examined constructive for COVID are being held in isolation below horrible circumstances. Is anybody allowed to talk up for them?
We count on and deserve extra from our leaders in Washington than “easy” last-minute requires censorship, boycotts, and toothless laws. Choosing to not ship a delegation to the Olympics is nothing greater than virtue-signaling, and doesn’t go far sufficient.
We must get critical about implementing a significant nationwide technique to counter China and its brutal regime. Under the earlier Administration, we started to carry China accountable by renegotiating honest commerce offers, imposing tariffs, and calling the Chinese Communist Party out for his or her blatant human rights abuses. In simply over one yr below President Biden, now we have as an alternative bowed to China each step of the best way.
I suppose the silver lining of the Speaker’s assertion is that it offers us an opportunity to mirror on what makes America so nice. In our nation, we’re free to talk our minds with out worry of being thrown into jail. The liberties we’re assured, and infrequently take as a right, stand in stark distinction to the day by day oppression of communist regimes like China.
If I might communicate on to our Olympians right now, I might inform them, “I’m so proud of you. Ignore the political noise. You are the best of the best. You are representing the greatest country in the world. Stay focused on the task at hand. Bring home the Gold! But no matter what the outcome is, I’ve got your back. Americans stand with you.”
Herschel Walker is former NFL operating again, political candidate, bobsledder, sprinter and blended martial artist.