The Olympics are over. They are still, despite the doping problems, an awesome sports events. I did not get the chance to watch much due to the time difference between China and Germany. But I do have one favorite moment: the team table-tennis semi-finals between Germany and Japan. Such a close game, and so brilliant sports. Pictures connect and I just found this blog by the gang of Newsweek photo-journalists, some exceptional photographers, who covered the Olympics for their magazine. Shown below are some images related to water from those guys blog.
One of these Newsweek photographers, Donald Miralle, writes about one such cool moment, the 100m mens’ final. He describes how such moments remain cool moments, but the main characters fade away very soon:
[…] Peter Reid Miller of Sports Illustrated posed the question to me tonight before the start of the finals, “Do you even remember who won the 100 in Athens?” I was there, I shot it, I remember taking an OK frame of it, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember who won [It was Justin Gatlin of the U.S.–ED]. And you know why, after tonight NOBODY CARES. The athlete, whether it’s one of the Jamaicans or the American, will be on the front cover of every newspaper and Website for the next 24 hours. You won’t see them again in the headlines for another four years. Unless, that is, one of them tests positive for doping…
Besides sports, the Olympic games put the focus on China. Here in Germany, every day there was some report on something in China. This is, I think, how this relates to planetwater: So many people live in China, and there are so many environment-related problems. Some problems were created specifically because of the Olympics — the water for the white water canal had to come from somewhere, whereas everything in this area usually is rather dry. So these are some environmental problems related to the Olympics I am aware of:
- water problems — this is only one example of many. And we will not talk about the Three Gorges Damn now.
- air quality problems do exist (see also here) in Peking, for the Olympics cars were taken from the road (Spiegel a and b), and factories were shut down
- there were health concerns before the start of the Olympics, I haven’t heard, seen, or read any about this after the start of the Olympics
- there were big problems with algae in the water where the sailing and rowing events took place. The algae were removed by manual labour. These problems did not seem to exist during the Olympics
For the course of the Olympics, it seemed like those problems were handled (maybe not exactly solved) fairly well. But what about now? Factories can not be shut down for ever. And I would guess that the cars will push onto the streets again fairly soon. And the eye of the international media will not be there anymore, not to the extent as during the Olympics anyways. The human rights issues that exist in China were not ignored in “Olympic TV coverage”, and human rights are the basis for any human being:
- two old women were sentenced to re-education camp after they tried to protest for not receiving sufficient compensation when their homes were seized for redevelopment. This story was picked up in Germany by the ZDF, and had prominent air time during two news broadcasts.
- before the start of the Olympics people were given the right to speak out their opinions if they apply to do so. After the start of the Olympics it became clear that nobody was granted that right
Some people claim there is a set-back regarding human rights in China due to the Olympics. Who will report, not to speak of control, when the majority of the media is gone and TV time-slots are back to normal and away from China? And what will happen with and in Tibet? Nobody has talked about all those protests when the Olympic fire was in San Francisco and other places. What will happen to the people that wanted to demonstrate during the Olympics? Let’s hope things don’t get worse after the Olympics than they were before. How should human beings care for the environment or clean up environmental pollution, if their individual rights are not existent? I found this picture that captures the point of authors cited in this post here. Along the same lines follows the quote below by Sharon Hom, Executive Director of HRIC.
The carefully orchestrated facade could not conceal a police state that tramples on human rights.