By Darryl Mason
There are some things more important than sport. China is about to find out what that really means.
British athletes have been told they must sign contracts that will censor them from telling the truth about the China they see and experience during this year's Olympic Games.
No talk of human rights, or intolerably cruel training regimes inflicted on children, nor talk of the occupation of Tibet will be allowed by British athletes when they are in front of the media at Beijing in a few months time.
If they break the rule, if they use freedom of speech - the most basic human right of all - they will be propelled towards the next plane home. If enough of them speak out at once, as a group, there will probably be a special plane waiting to remove them from the country.
How can Australian athletes be subjected to the denial of freedom of speech, and freedom to publicly empathise, and still board a plane to Beijing?
You would expect that many Australian athletes, or all of them, will refuse to agree to this appalling demand by the Chinese government.
You would expect to hear our prime minister publicly state that unless the Chinese government withdraws its demands for Australians at the 2008 Olympics to not talk about their experiences in China, there will be no Australian Olympic team in Beijing.
You would expect the prime minister to back the side of human rights and freedom of speech and not agree with the Chinese government.
But will he?
The story :
The controversial clause has been inserted into athletes' contracts for the first time and forbids them from making any political comment about countries staging the Olympic Games.Yesterday the British Olympic Association (BOA) confirmed to The Mail on Sunday that any athlete who refuses to sign the agreements will not be allowed to travel to Beijing.
The BOA took the decision even though other countries – including the United States, Canada, Finland, and Australia – have pledged that their athletes would be free to speak about any issue concerning China.
Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates said: “What we will be saying to the athletes is that it's best to concentrate on your competitions.
“But they're entitled to have their opinions and express them. They're free to speak.”
So that means Australian athletes will not sign the STFU contracts, right?
Go Here To Read Darryl Mason's New Online Novel, ED Day, Telling Of The Lives Of 300 Survivors In Sydney After The Bird Flu Pandemic
The insertion of a clause that forbids Olympic athletes from making 'political comment' about the host is not just for China.
The STFU deal will also be in force when the 2012 Olympics roll around.
Update : The English language version of China's 'theme' for this year's Olympics is :
Only the one dream?
From the 'One World, One Dream' site :
"One World, One Dream" is simple in expressions, but profound in meaning.
It voices the aspirations of 1.3 billion Chinese people to contribute to the establishment of a peaceful and bright world.
In Chinese, the word "tongyi", which means "the same", is used for the English word "One". It highlights the theme of "the whole Mankind lives in the same world and seeks for the same dream and ideal".
One World. Same World.
The difference between those two descriptions of a united world could not be more immense. Or pronounced.
Do we all really 'seek for the same dream and ideal'?
Is that the kind of world we want to live in?
And more than a little creepy.