Aug 11 2008 -
Senator Says Games Represent Historic Opportunity for Three Mississippians, China
Last Friday, the world renewed a 112 year-old tradition when the Olympic flame was lit in Beijing, China. The Olympic Games are an opportunity to watch the best athletes from across the globe compete. The games also represent a chance for the world to demonstrate the strength of the human spirit. This summer’s games are no different, as they represent a historic opportunity for China to highlight that spirit by showing the world they are committed to improving their human rights record. Additionally, for three Mississippians competing for Team U.S.A., the Olympics represent a once-in-a-lifetime chance to compete on the world stage.
GAMES PROMOTE UNITY
As we have seen time and again, the Olympics have always been about the strength of mankind and the power of human spirit. This was evident in 1936 when Jesse Owens won four gold medals in Berlin, and again in 1972 in Munich. At the Munich games, terrorists tragically killed 11 Israeli athletes, but the human spirit proved it was greater than a cowardly act of terrorism when 80,000 people later filled the Olympic Stadium to honor those fallen athletes. Thirty years later, during the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City that took place just months after September 11th, American athletes showed the world our resolve by entering the games with a tattered American flag from the World Trade Center.
The Beijing games represent a fantastic opportunity for three Mississippi Olympians. Brittney Reese, John Dane, and Austin Sperry, who all hail from Gulfport, are in China representing our country. Reese is a senior at Ole Miss and will compete in the women’s long jump. Dane and his son-in-law, Sperry, will compete in the sailing competition.
While the Olympic Games are an exciting time for the athletes and fans across the world, this is also an historic opportunity for the Chinese government. For years, China has denied its people basic human rights, including a free press, freedom of assembly, and most importantly, religious freedom. I was glad to see President Bush step up his criticism last week of China’s human rights record, and I join in the call for China to end its practices that stifle basic rights for its citizens. As the world watches them, now is the time for the Chinese government to show they are serious about granting the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled.
HOPING FOR SUCCESS, CHANGE
Over the next two weeks, the Olympic Games will provide a venue for our American athletes to shine against the greatest in the world. More than that, the games will give China the opportunity to prove to the world they are ready to make their country a better place by changing human rights practices. I am hopeful our American athletes will leave Beijing victorious, while also leaving behind a country that is actively working to make life better for the Chinese people.