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Bronze medallist in the long jump Naoto Tajima of Japan, gold medallist Jesse Owens of the United States and silver medallist Lutz Long of Germany salute during the medals ceremony on August 11, 1936, at the Summer Olympics in Berlin. Owens dominated the 1936 games with four gold medals, refuting Nazi claims of white racial superiority; he and Long reportedly became lifelong friends. Photo: AP

Letters | Olympic history shows sports and politics are intertwined – but athletes can bring harmony

  • Readers discuss the Olympic Games, Covid-19 hardships in Hong Kong and the mainland, and Chinese reactions to the call for baby-boosting slogans

Whether politics has any place in international sports events has been a controversy for decades. Many politicians argue that in the interest of athletes and harmony between all nations, sports must be kept out of politics.

Some even contend that sports has nothing to do with politics. These assertions seem very plausible but are unrealistic upon deeper scrutiny, especially when we turn to history.

Adolf Hitler, the German dictator and fascist, wanted to use the 1936 Berlin Olympics to bolster his theories of racial superiority. Germany did win the most gold medals in the games that year, but the Greater Germanic Reich disintegrated at the end of World War II.

As a result of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, the Moscow Olympiad in 1980 was boycotted by the United States and its allies. In response, 14 Eastern Bloc countries, led by the former Soviet Union, boycotted the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Some athletes from nations with great ambition in the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics seem to be trained as instruments to manifest the power of their nations rather than the Olympic creed, “The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight; the essential thing is not to have won, but to have fought well.”
Meanwhile, some Chinese athletes managed to reverse their reputation for being arrogant and disrespectful. Soon after being defeated by Indonesia 0-2 in the badminton women’s doubles, Chinese athletes warmly congratulated the winners. This shows the Olympic spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.

Although it is naive to think that politics can be separated from sports, athletes can bring harmony to the world when they display empathy, inclusion and the spirit and motto of the Olympic Games.

Barnaby Ieong, Macau

Proud of Hong Kong for putting lives first

Given the sudden rise in Covid-19 cases around the globe once again, it seems that Hong Kong’s travel bubbles will be delayed. We should be grateful to our government for putting our lives ahead of economic interests.

We could be in for another difficult six months as Covid-19 spreads and mutates again between countries. We can only hope that things get better by December and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

But for sure Hong Kong is putting its residents first during a very difficult time for the world. I’m proud of the Hong Kong government.

Rishi Teckchandani, Mid-Levels

Not time yet to discard zero-Covid-19 strategy

I am writing in response to the article, “China sticks with zero Covid-19 approach, leaving borders closed for now” ( August 9).
The Delta variant of Covid-19 has been spreading around the world. Even China, which has seen only a few cases over a prolonged period, has been no exception. Cases of the Delta variant have been reported in at least 17 Chinese provinces and municipalities.
On Sunday, the country reported 96 new cases. To tackle these outbreaks, the Chinese government has quickly imposed stringent measures, such as mass testing, the lockdown of cities, and the closure of transport links.
While some have suggested that China will have to “live with” the virus, I think it is worthwhile for the government implement the measures that it has. The government must publicise the importance of complying with Covid-19 prevention measures and impose penalties on those who do not do so.


Covid-19 returns to China’s Wuhan as Delta variant spreads to 10 provinces

Covid-19 returns to China’s Wuhan as Delta variant spreads to 10 provinces

The government should be transparent in disclosing data related to the recent outbreak to the World Health Organization. The advice of international health experts could help China fight Covid-19.

Finally, the vaccination programme must continue in earnest. While the vaccines may be less effective against the Delta variant, they do offer some protection. People must get over their worries about the vaccines, which have been approved by the WHO, and get vaccinated without further ado.

Admittedly, controlling the spread of the Delta variant is no walk in the park for the Chinese government, but the zero-Covid-19 strategy should not be discarded.

Owen Hau, Tseung Kwan O

Don’t force Chinese couples to have children

I am writing in response to the article, “‘Have babies or go to jail’: Chinese internet mocks official call for 3-child policy propaganda submissions” (August 6).

Your report notes that internet users in China reacted with derision to the China Family Planning Association saying it was seeking slogans to advertise a “new family planning culture” and to cultivate “a birth-friendly social atmosphere”. On social media, people suggested slogans such as “Have more children, die young, do not give your country any trouble.”

In recent years, China has been grappling with its ageing population. According to its recent census, the number of people aged 60 years and above is 264.02 million, accounting for 18.7 per cent of the population, an increase of 5.44 percentage points compared to a decade ago.

A three-child policy would help alleviate the increasingly serious problem of the ageing population, while also giving Chinese people more freedom to choose how many children they would like to have. Some people might not want any children after marriage, others might want two or three. The policy restricting couples to just two children was unduly harsh.

Although boosting the national birth rate would help China avert a demographic crisis, the government should not force all married people to have children.

Suki Chong, Tseung Kwan O