Amid protests that are arguably riots, the Olympic athletes from France are making a much calmer, quieter statement: they’re wearing badges that say, “Pour un monde meilleur” — for a better world. And they’re taking flak for that from the International Olympic Committee:
The International Olympic Committee may review whether French athletes broke rules prohibiting political protests at Olympic sites after several members of the national team wore badges with the words “for a better world” at the torch relay in Paris on Monday.
Rule 51 of the Olympic Charter prohibits athletes from engaging in political demonstrations at Olympic events or sites, although the I.O.C. has said athletes will be free to express their opinions if they are responding to questions from reporters.
“For a better world,” is a political demonstration? Don’t be ridiculous, IOC; to the contrary, it’s the very essence of the Olympic Games. The IOC made a colossal blunder in its attempt to be apolitical, by rewarding the government of China with the opportunity to host the Olympics (not the people of China, which would be laudable; it’s the government that really benefits here). They should not make another blunder by censuring participants for saying that they do this for the dream of a better world.
I also find it ironic that it’s OK to display brand names of sports equipment prominently, but not to carry low-key slogans of peace.