Home' The Wellingtonian : April 26th 2012 Contents 23
THE WELLINGTONIAN, APRIL 26, 2012
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JOSEPH ROMANOS REBECCA THOMSON
The best of The Wellingtonian interviews
Treat your mother
to a great read this
Includes over 100
interviews with some of
the Capital's finest.
Dominion Post Reception
40 Boulcott Street
t your mo
Sport's ethical dilemma
Burning tyres: Anti-government protesters flash victory signs while demonstrating against the running of the Bahrain
I've been wrestling with an ethi-
cal dilemma concerning the
Bahrain formula one grand
The race, cancelled in 2011
because of unrest in Bahrain, went
ahead last weekend, despite the
pleas of protesters, who said the
situation in their country was even
Various politicians called for a
boycott -- as they often do -- and
some drivers said they felt
uncomfortable competing in
Bahrain, but adopted the follow-
ing orders'' line.
I detest it when a repressive
regime, such as in Bahrain, uses a
major sports event to bolster its
reputation and legitimise itself in
the world's eyes.
On the other hand, where do you
stop? Who is to act as the world's
policeman? As the Bible says: Let
he who is without sin cast the first
Sports boycotts have existed for
In 1930, Uruguay won the
hosting rights for the first Football
World Cup by offering to pay for
competing teams' travel, prompting
the other four hosting hopefuls --
Sweden, Spain, The Netherlands
and Italy -- to boycott the event.
There was such an outcry when
Berlin was chosen to host the 1936
Olympics that Barcelona was
mooted as a venue for a People's
Olympics'' for countries boycotting
the Nazi Olympics''.
Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon
boycotted the 1956 Olympics to
highlight their objections to the
The Olympics have always been
a juicy target. Three in succession
were heavily boycotted.
The first, in Montreal in 1976,
was because New Zealand had sent
a rugby team to apartheid-riven
The second, in Moscow in 1980,
was because the Soviets had
invaded Afghanistan, though the
fact the American president Jimmy
Carter trailed in the polls with an
election looming seemed relevant.
The third, in Los Angeles in
1984, was payback by the Soviet
The 1986 Edinburgh Common-
wealth Games was boycotted by
African, Asian and Caribbean
countries protesting at British
Prime Minister Margaret
Thatcher's cosy relationship with
In New Zealand, the most
notable boycott call was in 1981,
when the Springbok rugby team
toured. Two games were cancelled
and civil unrest reached unpre-
cedented proportions that winter.
Boycotts and protests are often
timed around major sports events
because of the attendant publicity.
So it's wise to be somewhat cynical.
However, sometimes the cause is
undeniable. What if Syria was
hosting this year's Olympics?
Some say sport and politics
shouldn't mix, but they do, all the
Equally, it is easy to say every
country should be left to run its
That was the line football
officials used when permitting
North Korea to participate in the
2010 World Cup while its authori-
tarian regime starved its citizens.
Should China, with its appalling
civil rights record, have been per-
mitted to host the 2008 Olympics?
Should we be playing cricket with
Zimbabwe while Robert Mugabe's
murderous regime remains in
Should Fiji be welcome in the
sports fold while it is led by an
And should Bahrain host a grand
prix while Shia-led protests against
the ruling Sunni monarchy are
being brutally repressed?
It's impossible to make a call
that covers every contingency.
situations as they arise and hope-
fully act with thought and reason.
The worst thing would be for
everyone to simply turn a Nelson-
ian eye and say they don't care.
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