While it's easy to appreciate the spectacle of these Olympics, I think it's also important to recognize the politics involved in these games.
I've been very torn about these games, because I love and support the Chinese people and their rich and vibrant culture, and feel that they are clearly worthy of hosting the games... but that said, I'm *ASHAMED* of the Chinese government's behavior and will not be watching the Olympics on NBC or otherwise commercially supporting these games.
That said, I also appreciate the athletes, and the need to have Olympic Games be one which is united, where politics ideally don't interfere with something that is supposed to transcend national boundaries.
Unfortunately, I feel that the Chinese government have broken this pact, in many ways, because of their failure to tolerate dissent, both at home and abroad, and their violent, reckless, and lethal behavior. Likewise, the Olympics Committee have violated the idea of depoliticizing the games, by becoming an active partner in its censorship.
I cannot condone the Chinese government's barring
US athletes from the games, the brutal, lethal strongarming of dissent
throughout China, and the dangerous, potentially lethal behavior
for more information) of Chinese consulate members against United States citizens protesting China's actions. And, of course, the widespread censorship, which tries to block LiveJournal, YouTube, and many, many other sites from being seen in China.
*I* don't want to politicize the games... but China and the Olympics Committee have done such a good job of doing it themselves through their own actions... they've broken the basic pact that is supposed to be the premise of the games. And frankly, it's a big disappointment, and tends to turn people off of the games in the long run.
Indeed, more internal opposition has been repressed, censored, and killed in the run-up to these Olympics to make them come off "without a hitch" than in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, held in the early days of Nazi Germany. That is not to say that the Chinese government are somehow the equivalent of the Nazis ... but they clearly have been a party to considerable violence and repression in the run-up to these games, moreso than Hitler required to make his games an effective tool of Nazi Germany's state propaganda. Frankly, Hitler -- and Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels -- were better at manipulating public opinion favorably during the '36 games. Despite the strong nationalist and racist overtones of the 1936 games, they *weren't* violent, didn't exclude athletes, and were comparatively less censored. The Chinese government come off as rather kneejerk, unwise, and thuggish in comparison.
So, how do I enjoy the games and support the athletes, without supporting either the Chinese government or the Olympic Committee?
My answer will probably be to bittorrent
the parts of the game I want to watch later, doing searches on bittorrent search engines
once the various parts of the game have gone live -- generally, that means waiting about 12 hours from the time of its broadcast in the U.S. Watching the games via bittorrent download is also a good way to avoid unnecessary advertising, and encourages the free sharing of these games with others around the world... which, I would argue, is more in tune with the original spirit of the Olympics.
So, as pretty as the spectacle is and as skilled as the athletes are, it's not something worth commercially supporting, especially when there are better ways to support athletes in your own community. I encourage others to watch the games, but to also avoid giving them your financial support, and to be aware of the price that some are paying to keep these games "peaceful" and "non-political".