Thursday, May 8, 2008

Olympic torch atop Mount Everest

Today the Olympic torch, making its way around the world toward Beijing, was carried to the summit of Mount Everest by a team made up of Chinese and Tibetan climbers. This is a huge technological feat, requiring a special high-altitude flame and an amazing amount of teamwork (always a requirement to reach the top of the world). So let's acknowledge that.

But let's also acknowledge that publicity stunts involving dangerous mountains push people to take unnecessary risks, putting their own lives and the lives of their fellow climbers in danger. Let's also not sweep aside the fact that this climb was part publicity for China and the Olympics, part showcasing the Chinese and Tibetan people as friendly fellow countrymen, when really there is a lot of anger, resentment, and controversy over China's Communist rule over the Tibetan people.

The Olympics, like all sporting arenas, have been tainted by the scandal of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs, but I think it still provides a forum for countries that may ordinarily be at odds to achieve a temporary detente, to exert themselves and their national pride in a peaceful manner, and for the world to see what we all have in common rather than the things that make us different.

Opening ceremonies for the 2008 Summer Games are August 8.

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