This is Pastor Tim’s article which appeared in the Evening Leader on Monday, Feb 14, 2022
I am not a sports fan (was there a football game on yesterday?). But I have to give my 2 cents on the Olympics drama that is going on. I am going to give you my opinion on the controversy as I see it and draw a few conclusions. You are free to agree or disagree with me.
The Olympics are being hosted by China around the city of Beijing. I feel very sorry for the many good people of China because they live under an oppressive government. There is no greater example of the totalitarian style of leadership they suffer under than what is happening to the Uyghur people. They are an ethnic minority who are primarily Muslim and have been rounded up into camps. To call what is happening to the Uyghurs cruel would be an understatement. They live in constant danger simply because of their ethnic background.
My disclaimer to this is that I have never visited Xinjiang, the province where the Uyghurs live, so I have to take it on faith based on what I have read about their situation. However, if what I have read is anywhere close to accurate, what has happened to the Uyghurs is despicable and a clear human rights violation.
This is just one example I can site of human rights violations by the leaders of China. There have been problems in their relationship with Hong Kong, constraints on Tibet, and the most aggressive attempt to outlaw any kind of religious faith anywhere in the world. Their crack down on religion is one of their long list of problems with the Uyghurs.
What does any of this have to do with the Olympics? Well, that is the controversy. Should a country that cares so little about the well-being of their own people be allowed to host the Olympics and if so, should the United States send athletes to compete? Those are two separate but related questions and I will answer them individually.
First, should a country that cares so little for their own people be allowed to host the Olympics? This is an easy answer, absolutely yes. We would not be talking about the Uyghur people at all if the Olympics did not put a spotlight on the atrocity. President Biden has said that he will not attend or be involved in the Olympics at all, because of what is happening. I have mixed feelings on that. I can understand why he is keeping his distance. But at the same time, if he would go over there and use the platform to denounce the evil that is taking place, that would be a show of strength and support to people whose own people want them dead. I wish the President would use the platform to make a stand, and I am disappointed that is not happening. This could have been Biden’s “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” moment.
Second, should the USA send athletes to compete in this Olympics? Again, obviously yes, we should. These athletes have worked very hard to be ready for these games and they should have a right to go and win medals. Who better to take home Olympic medals than American athletes? I can’t think of anyone I’d rather see get those medals than our people, and I say that as someone who won’t know the outcome of a single Olympic event.
The Olympics were always about unity and the fact that people from all over the world could get together and compete. It was a sign that we all live on the same planet, and that we could speak the universal language of sports. I wish we could go back to a time before all of the kneeling and statement making and grandstanding, but here we are. The 2022 Olympics, where the athletes have to make statements and our politicians are silent. It is literally the worst of both worlds.
I hope that you enjoy the Olympic Games, and I pray that everyone participating is safe. I hope the outcome is that everyone on every side of every issue will see that we are all just people. Everyone from the Athletes themselves to the Uyghur people who are hated just for existing, we are all people created in the image of God. Until we embrace that fact, we are going to struggle to believe we have anything in common.