- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Virtually since the inception of the modern Olympics in 1896, politics has crept its way onto the playing field.

And since China was selected to play host to the 2008 Summer Games seven years ago, politically minded individuals and organizations have been lining up to take a swat at the world’s most populous nation like a baseball team hitting through the order.

No, I am not defending China on its human rights record, nor will I comment on the way its government runs its country.

But I will express sincere disappointment at the way the guests are treating the hosts there.

It appears, by the preponderance of media coverage, that Aug. 8 began open season on criticism.

While I have been waiting patiently through the summer to see thousands and thousands of stories about the thousands and thousands of athletes who devoted a phenomenal amount of time and energy to make it to the games, I have not seen the appropriate amount of coverage and focus on these people.

Instead, many in the media and in politically motivated organizations haven taken to blasting China for all of its ills on the world’s biggest stage. Forget that the Olympics are about sport. One of my favorite broadcasters, Bob Costas, made it a point during the opening ceremonies Friday to quip about many of the countries’ political issues as their athletes marched into the stadium.

Even our own president got into the act last week, taking the opportunity to chastise China. And shame on our Olympic team members for getting caught up in the mess, choosing as its flag bearer Lopez Lomong, its most recent U.S. citizen - and, until a few weeks ago, a virtually unknown 1500-meter runner - because he is a “Lost Boy” from Sudan, and it would send a message to China about its ties to that region.

It is no secret that China is not a democracy. It also is no secret that Beijing is hot and humid in the summer. And it is no secret that there is a cloud of pollution in Beijing, nearly the same as it was when the International Olympic Committee awarded China the games.

Remember how hot, humid and polluted Los Angeles was in 1984? I do as I bicycled to each event for more than two steamy weeks.

Hopefully, all the grenades at China have been launched and we all can enjoy the originally intended reason for the games - to watch athletes from around the world, to watch intense competition bring out the best in people, not the worst.

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