Our Monday gym instructor just came third in the Victorian natural bodybuilding comp, qualifying for the nationals in which she will compete this weekend. It’s been fascinating watching her go from being a lean, fit looking woman down to 8% body fat and I’ve been intrigued by both the science and the discipline involved. Our class chats with her a bit about it and after bombarding her with questions this week, she offered to show us her stuff.
I love the Olympics. My family is obsessed with them. Whether it was Anna’s conviction that she would one day marry Kieran Perkins or Steph’s broken arm, testament to her attempt to be like the Olympic gymnasts, anticipating the opening ceremony, watching the events with awe and experiencing post-game let down have been a part of growing up for me in the Lockery household.
However, this year I have approached the Olympics with more sadness than excitement. While I respect our Australian athletes and their decisions to compete, the ethical issues loom large in my mind as a viewer and threaten to spoil the appeal of this sporting venture. My concern rests largely on the narrative of the host country, China. As we hear Chinese officials speaking of China’s acceptance into the rest of the world, on one hand ‘One World, One Dream’ sounds wonderfully optimistic. However, as I have seen stories over the past few months of the Chinese government’s oppression of the Tibetan people, refusal to acknowledge Taiwan, demolition of Chinese people’s houses that cluttered the streets and other such atrocities, I have wondered whether it is such a good thing to ‘accept’ China.
Of course the people of China may not be to blame for such acts and so, the argument could be made that they should not be further punished for the wrongs of their government. That said, one wonders about the Chinese nationalism that has been expressed these games. Is it genuine love of China’s people or its government? Or is it another PR job by a Communist regime, another sign of oppression? The ethics of politics, the individual and the state are always complicated and I do not pretend to find easy answers here. But I still wonder whether I should boycott these games, protesting my own unease with the policies of the Chinese government.
I am teaching a course on ethics at the moment and so I feel I ought to hold some kind of strong conviction and take action on it. And yet, when I see Stephanie Rice swimming or hear that the artistic gymnastics are on, the excitement overwhelms me and I feel that I simply must watch! And yet, what an incredible freedom that is – to have the right to protest as well as the liberty to be lazy.