Groover asked me the other day: “If I’d been selected to run in the Olympic Torch Relay in Canberra – would I pull out?” and it’s a question that has been plaguing me all week.
I imagine the thrill of being asked. The honour. The excitement of representing my chosen field, my family, my country, my Olympic representatives – the athletes who have trained so hard and for so long – in such a public event.
Then the dilemma. Does running mean that I support China’s action in Tibet? And if it does, can I live with myself if I run?
And then the horror of watching the other relays – in London, in Paris, in San Franscisco – and the debacle they’ve turned into. Watching other runners being caught up in the protest. Being attacked.
Being shoved into a warehouse as organisers try and work out what to do next.
Being surrounded by a phalanx of secret service guards.
Where is the honour in that? Where is the glory? Where is the pride?
So imagine. You’re sitting at home watching the news on the telly. Your torch relay uniform, clean and sparkling new is in its box. Your brand new sandshoes gleam. And you, with your heart in your mouth, have to decide whether you’ll take part.
It’s easy to say “No I won’t take part” from your lounge room when you don’t have to make that decision but if you were actually in those gleaming new sandshoes… would you withdraw?
I am torn on this question.
What I will say on behalf of those who decided to run is that at least they have provided a very public platform for the protesters.
What about our athletes? Do they boycott? What difference would it really make? Did boycotting Moscow back in 1980 really achieve all that much? Could you turn your back on four years of training, of dreams?
Sport and politics should not mix. Is that possible in the real world?
So in summary: I think I would run in the relay as it is a great forum for the Tibetans to make their protest. I don’t think athletes should boycott the games, after all we don’t expect our companies to give up their trade contracts. And at this stage I think Kevin Rudd should consider not going to the Games although, I can’t imagine the Chinese would care if he were there or not.