The Beijing Olympics Has Many Political Subplots

Politics has been on display.

Welcome to the 2022 Beijing Olympics where Omicron is an issue and politics is sweeping the Gold, Silver and Bronze medals on the Olympics stage. The United States Congress wants to know a little bit about the Olympics coverage that Comcast through NBC and its various cable TV networks and its streaming service is providing to consumers. House Republicans sent a letter to Comcast asking “about the level of influence the Chinese Communist Party and the International Olympic Committee has in NBC’s 2022 Winter Olympics programming.” Here is an answer, a lot. NBC is not going to upset its Olympic partners even though it is paying billions of dollars for the American rights to the Games. More than likely, NBC will try to sidestep China’s human rights issues particularly when it comes to the Uyghurs. Comcast-NBCUniversal said its plans to present “geopolitical” issues, but the Olympics is entertainment so the soap opera-like stories about athletes take front and center stage.

The geopolitical aspect is more interesting than the athletic competition. Ukraine has told its athletes not to mingle with Russians. The president of the Czech Republic Miloš Zeman is more interested in scolding political leaders of countries who are protesting the opening ceremonies with a diplomatic boycott of the event which includes the United States. Zeman said “I am fundamentally opposed to the misuse of the Olympic idea for political purposes.” Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Lithuania and New Zealand political leaders won’t be at the opening ceremonies. International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach in October 2021 op ed piece complaining about politics taking over the Olympic movement. “The Olympic Games are not about politics. The International Olympic Committee, as a civil non-governmental organization, is strictly politically neutral at all times.” Bach is wrong. The Olympics is about politics always.

Evan Weiner’s books are available at iTunes –  

FILE – Canada’s Owen Power (25) is chased by Czech Republic’s Vojtech Jirus (25) during second-period IIHF world junior hockey championship game action in Edmonton, Alberta, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021. USA Hockey and Hockey Canada are eyeing several college players to play at the Olympics after the NHL decided not to participate in Beijing. Owen Power could suit up for Canada. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP, File)