There was the dramatic Olympian display by medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos who raised their black-gloved fists as a symbol of Black Power at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.
When athletes do make public their social or political stance on issues of the day, we usually punish them. The International Olympic Committee banned Smith and Carlos from the Olympic Games for life.
Olympic speed-skater gold medalist Joey Cheek, had his visa revoked by China, because he is an activist working to bring the world's attention to the problems in Darfur, Sudan. For those who may not know, Sudan is a close ally of China, and China has ignored global calls to pressure the Sudanese government to halt the genocide taking place there.
In a poised and humble statement, Cheek offered:
I am saddened not to be able to attend the Games. The Olympic Games represent something powerful: that people can come together from around the world and do things that no one thought were possible. However, the denial of my visa is a part of a systemic effort by the Chinese government to coerce and threaten athletes who are speaking out on behalf of the innocent people of Darfur."See, China revokes visa of gold medalist, Darfur activist Cheek, at Yahoo! Sports.
Many organizations around the world have called for a boycott of the Games in China.
Have you decided whether or not to boycott?
I have not.
I have been excited about the US soccer teams playing to take home medals, and some of my favorite young players are on the Men's Olympic Team.
I am torn.
This news about Cheek, however, helps me lean towards a boycott.
Whether or not you are boycotting, please post a comment leting me know your position.