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THE WINTER OLYMPICS
AND THE 9-11 FLAG

Feb 10th 2002

The Salt Lake City Winter Olympics got off to a marvelous start save for one fact that I found rather disappoining. This was the issue of the September 11th flag being brought into this global sports spectacle. This was yet another example of how some sections of Americans, particularly right wing conservatives, have used the terrorist tragedy to impose their wishes on the rest of the world.

Ever since the fateful September morning, Americans have become accustommed to an increasingly intolerant attitude, where anything anyone says against the government is termed "unpatriotic". People cannot express their views honestly anymore for fears of reprisals from a certain section of Americans. This has even gone as far as Congress where any opposition to the Bush Administration has been characteried as being "obstructive". This trend was seeming to come to an end by the end of last year but the recent events at the Olympics shows its still very much alive and kicking. The International Olympic Committee(IOC) received a request by some Americans to have the flag that stood at the World Trade Center on September 11th carried by the American team during the opening ceremony of the games. The IOC declined this request arguing that this was an international event and should not be used as an American showcase. They continued to add that many countries, not just America suffered fatalities during the September attacks. In a surprising turn of events, obviously under intense political pressure from the American hosts, the IOC President reversed his decision and allowed the flag to be carried at the opening ceremony.

Now let me just say that the terrorist acts of September 11th were perfect examples of the worst in human beings. That the people who committed this appalling act were simply "evil people" as President Bush calls them is unquestionable. The big picture here however, and a picture I think the Americans continue to miss, is that the Olympics is an international sporting event. It is the Americans who lobbied to have the games hosted in Utah. There are many other countries out there that would be more than willing to host the games. So for America to hijack the games and impose its views on the IOC, and indeed the rest of the world, is simply a case of playing bully and is quite frankly a very good example of the well known American arrogance. If the IOC were run by Americans, and some other country requested such a favour, there's little doubt in my mind that the request would be denied, or should I say snubbed? There was absolutely nothing wrong with the flag being brought into Winter Olympics. The point is, it would have been ten times better if the IOC initiated the gesture or at the very least, the Americans kept their request to just that--a request. It appears however that the Americans demanded that the IOC comply with their request. This may not seem to concern most Americans, who usually feel that they don't care how the rest of the world feels. And why should they? America is the richest and most powerful country in the world right? Well consider this point. The reason why the world is going through this tumultous phase right now can be attributed partly to the feeling of dominance and helplessnes other people feel towards America. That America will always get its way no matter what. I think its time for America to look deep into herself and realize that the only way this world will revert to its peaceful ways, is if other people's views and opinions are respected. All the American officials needed to do was to explain to the IOC the importance of having their flag carried into the stadium that day. There was no need whatsoever to bully the IOC President and the rest of the world into fulfilling their wishes. I hope they learn from this and ensure it does'nt happen again. Lets talk with each other, not at each other.

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