back to article Spielberg quits as Beijing Olympics advisor

Steven Spielberg has quit as advisor to the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics in protest at the Chinese regime's backing of the Sudanese government, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Sudanese authorities have been heavily critised for failing to tackle violence in the country's Darfur region, in which the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Berlin 1936, Moscow 1980, Beijing 2008...

    Take your pick.

  2. Graham Bartlett

    Why just Darfur?

    Let's remember that this is China, the world's principal violator of human rights. You can be arrested, imprisoned, tortured and executed for no reason other than your religious or political beliefs, or simply because you got in the way. Government corruption is widespread, and more widespread are coverups to hide government ineptitude or politically-motivated failures.

    Refusing to help China because of Darfur is like saying you don't want to touch a poisonous snake because its colour clashes with your clothes. Maybe it's true, but a better reason is that it's a poisonous reptile and anyone sensible would stay well away.

  3. akbar


    The Olympics is meant to be non-professional and non-political so why do hypocritical westerners with blood on their hands (US & UK illegal wars of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan) and their representatives always bring politics into it when others host the Olympics. Yet they would complain bitterly if others brought politics into it when they themselves host the games.

    Its just sheer baloney. Whatever the merits of Sudan, that should be resolved by an independent UN (not the subservient one we currently have which is chained by the ankles to the war-mongering US) its no excuse for beating the Chinese about the head over. They are not even involved! The US is much more directly involved in Israel and its immoral, inhumane and illegal seige and occupation of the Palestinians.

    And the Chinese have been careful to separate politics from the games of the Olympics.

    Anyway who gives a toss about Spielberg. Phone home Spielberg phone home - there are illegal wars being conducted there under your very nose!

  4. Michael Compton

    I smell hypocrisy

    Would he take the same stance with his own government which has and still does support many a country with dubious human rights records; Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Isreal.

    I'll not even both mentioning their own actions

  5. Robert Long


    "And the Chinese have been careful to separate politics from the games of the Olympics."

    Can't be done. China is a murderous, brutal, and deeply evil regime. Sending a team there is a sign of significant support for that regime. No matter what crimes western countries have commited that doesn't let China off the hook. No athlete going to the Chinese "Olympics" is representing my country as far as I'm concerned; they can all stay in China if they like it so much.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    This just reeks of Hypocricy!

    At a conservative estimate, at least four-times as many people are dead in Iraq due to the Belligerence of the US and UK. Yet nobody seems to care about that.

    But look, Sudan has Oil. Oh, what was that? Burma has Oil too? And they both provide that Oil to China? How very naughty of them... We can't have that...

    I wonder if anyone else smells it...

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Wars and conflict -been there and will be there

    I dont see why people cant accept the fact that wars and conflicts ,direct or by proxy was always there and will alway be there. Countries act in their self interest and most of the time these countries usually mean select individuals or special interest groups.What the US or the so called Satans of the western world are doing now is no different from what the rulers in Asia and other parts did at the height of their powers. So take a chill pill and get on with your lives and stop getting into fits of unnecessary rage. :)

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Kettle and Pot

    Whilst I'm no supporter of the Chinese government, I can't help thinking that we (the UK and US) aren't exactly leading by example. We have a great track record of supporting any number of brutal regimes to further our political and economic aims.

    As for calling China "evil", when was the last time they kidnapped a foreign national and handed them over for torture? Last I heard, no-one was accusing China of rendition flights.

    Two wrongs don't make a right, but we don't have the moral high-ground any more; it needs to be reclaimed from the TWoT brigade and those happy to cash in on China and look the other way (£20 DVD player anyone?) before we lose all credibility with the international community.

  9. P. Lee Silver badge

    re: hypocrisy

    The Olympics: non-professional and non-political? If you think that's true you can stop reading now as the rest will be too shocking for you.

    Hypocrisy: The ultimate sin for the obsessively introspective. Hypocrisy is bad, but logic of "I'll criticise you for something doing something good because you haven't been good enough in the past (or addressed the issues I'm interested in)" escapes me. We are all inconsistent and finite. Criticise the bad rather than the good. If he takes a job as Bush's PR director, criticise that as hypocritical rather than this!

    "Hypocritical Westerners" act as Spielberg did with China because that happens to be his sphere of work and influence. As for having blood on his hands, I suspect Spielberg would be surprised to learn he could have solved the middle-east's issues instead of making E.T.

    Illegal wars: I'm sure all those killed would feel so much better if everyone at the UN had voted overwhelmingly for the killing. Legal issues are relevant to national government and their own people, not so much to those at the wrong end of a bomb site. Morality might be more important here, but unless you believe in some external provider of morality, you'll just end up with a morality everyone voted for, which is embodied by the elected governments concerned or the local militia. Votes for or against a war could be a signal as to the wisdom of such a move, but they won't tell you if its right or not.

    The UN: If I remember, the UN was merely ignored by the Americans. Anyone who thinks the UN has ever been "independent" hasn't read much history. If you want an independent UN which has power, you just have to pay for and build a huge military machine and then hand it over to a group of people who almost certainly have interests other than yours and who are willing to fight with anyone. Its so easy really!

    Flamebait. Because I can!

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Boycot China

    While ever there are consumerist idiots pumping money into the Chinese economy, they will continue do whatever they like with the world's resources - Human and Environmental.

    Where's Spielberg's film production hardware manufactured? Probably China or from components made in China. Where do the vast majority of the TVs and DVD players used to watch his films get manufactured? China.

    The Olympic games pale into insignificance compared to the billions spent on Chinese goods day after day.

    Trouble is, western economies have become dependent upon consumerism. If people stopped buying consumer goods from China, what would happen to all the associated service industries in the west? Retailers selling the stuff would go bust, Financial Services providing credit and insurance for the goods would go bust, media companies that profit from advertising and merchandising would go bust. etc, etc...

    At least the world economy wasn't dependent upon Nazi Germany and therefore something could be done about it. The Chinese have us over a barrel - an empty oil barrel...

  11. Olly

    @ Robert Long

    Politics is politics and sport is sport - Don't make the common mistake and try to think sport can or should be used as a political lever. After all the whole point of the Olympic games is to try to rise above the usual petty squabbling over who's right or who's the most evil and try to celebrate part of humanity at it's best.

    Yes of course the Chinese government, no matter what they say, will be using it as a propaganda tool but equally I'm sure that, other governments/organisations will be using it by way of providing contrast and focusing attention on the brutality of the Chinese regime.

    But at it's core, the Olympics is a competition about finding out who's the fastest, the strongest or the most accurate, no more, no less. We could take the countries out of it and it would be only slightly less exciting. What we want to see are incredibly dedicated, superhumanly fit and talented people showing us just how well the human body can operate when it is top of it's game.

    And finally, personally I've always found that the things which people remember most about the Olympic Games is not who hosted them, but who won a specific event in whatever years games. That seems to indicate that for all the pontificating from polititians about how wonderful the games are for [insert country's name] image on the world scene, the Olympics actually does precisely fuck all for their image. All it means is that you've spent a boatload of cash for a party that everyone comes to and then afterwards you realise that they still don't like you.

    I for one welcome China's ruling elite that realisation!

  12. Rajesh
    IT Angle

    Who cares about the Olympics?

    That seems to be the attitude. It is not the Olympics that are important here, it is an opportunity for US gainsay. That's the whole idea of getting a *recognized* person like Spielberg to speak out. I am sure that working as Spielberg is on the Olympics to be held in China gives the US diplomats an opportunity to create a mountain out of a molehill. A mountain which could suitably obscure their oil swindling trick which they learnt so well.

    An easy analogies:

    Sudan : Darfur :: Iraq : Weapons of Mass _Distraction_

  13. Anonymous Coward

    I hope Spielberg gets sued for breach of contract

    What gives these hypocrites the idea that they can interfere in the policies and actions of another country ?

    If the Sudanese government want to kill some of their citizens ( for whatever reason ) that is their own concern and nobody elses.

    If Spielberg has such a big problem with the actions of the Chinese government, he shouldn't have taken the job in the first place.

    And a message for Gordon Brown.. stop spending taxpayers money in Africa until you have commited to free long term care for the elderly, paid back all the money you stole from pension funds and built proper flood defences in this begins ( and ends ) at home

  14. Robert Long


    " After all the whole point of the Olympic games is to try to rise above the usual petty squabbling over who's right or who's the most evil and try to celebrate part of humanity at it's best."

    No, it's not. The whole point of the Olympic games is to make a lot of money for the sponsors, set the top athletes up to make lots of money from sponsorship, make the host nation a lot of money from tourism, and bolster trade links. There is also a darker side where it is seen as the ultimate test of "supplements" which can't be detected; success at the Olympic can make a lot of money for various back-street pharmacists.

    The Olympics is a purely commercial event in exactly the same way as Disneyland or a plane ticket. It also, because of the practice of moving it every time, is a political statement of acceptance and approval by the Olympic committee.

    "But at it's core, the Olympics is a competition about finding out who's the fastest, the strongest or the most accurate, no more, no less."

    How is life in the 19th century?

    If it was a real competition, then it would be run in a totally different way. For example, equipment would be standardised and people would not have to sign 32-page contracts to enter it. In fact, there is no real effort made towards a fair judgement of who's the best athlete in even the running events let alone joke events like cycling where cheating is so normal it's not even against the rules anymore (it's only a matter of time before someone turns up with a motorbike and is allowed in).

    It is about money and nothing else at all.

  15. Steve Wallis

    Nobody's Perfect

    but lets's not forget that the Chinese government (not the poor people that They rule) is further from perfect than most.....

    1: Tibet

    2: Tiananmen Square - How many of those protestors do you imagine suffered a 9mm headache in the aftermath?

    3: Human Rights - Don't even breath out of turn

    4: Their totally barbaric methods used to abort late -term "unofficial" second babies - allegedly a syringe of Formaldehyde into the brain at the moment of birth!

    5: Cheap Goods - Where do you think your £20 DVD was made ? Prison, probably.

    How can anyone consider doing business of any kind with these bastards?

  16. Olly

    @Robert Long (again)

    Yes the Olympics are a cashcow for various groups of people involved and that is probably all the sponsors will ever see them as. But, however you try to twist it the basis of the Olympics is athletic competition, no matter how commercialised that has become. To the average person who doesn't care a jot about the sponsors or tourism it provides the opportunity to see and support the best athletes around competing in a world arena, and that is the point.

    Regarding "supplements", yes some people will get caught and perhaps some won't, but hopefully enough do to act as a deterrent. I don't believe that destroys the integrity of the games though, it certainly dents it from time to time but it's still able to produce some amazing pieces of human theatre. Maybe these won't be the cleanest games ever but I'll work on the innocent until proven guilty principle for anyone who is successful.

    The standardisation issue is a problem in the cycling events, granted, but outside of that there is not such a problem, of course different track surfaces can produce different performances. But when running the 400m everyone is on the same piece of track. You might be in different lanes, but every athlete should train to run their own race wherever they are - the alternative, as you seem to suggest, would be to run everyone in the same shoes in separate time trials, possibly handicapping the ones with longer legs. At that point the Olympics would have truly lost any character it still retains.

    But back to the original point of the rights and wrongs of having the Olympics in China.

    Does anyone really think that having the Olympics in any given country is going to suddenly mean that that country has turned into a cute fluffy bunny who has never hurt anyone and likes making daisy rings for a hobby? No. So no government is going to change how it treats China on the back of the Games.

    Does that mean that people are going to set up trade links with China because the Olympics are there? No. As you have already indicated business does what's good for it and nothing else, so if companies are setting up in China it is because they want to make lots of money and they see China as the way to go.

    If you're arguing from the ethical point of view that doing any business of any kind with China is wrong then I can only ask to to throw/sell virtually any piece of technology you own, about half your clothes and donate the proceeds to a Tibet freedom movement of your choosing. Maybe you can make a documentary about it with your homemade camcorder.

    Whether we like it or not China is important in the world and the option of ostracising her is not there. But we can of course make all diplomatic moves available, to try to change the way China acts. But an attempt at humiliation, by countries withdrawing from the games, and so then making them political, is more likely to backfire and destroy the diplomatic relations which we do have, and with it any influence.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Double standards!

    Funny to see such stupid remarks from Spielberg, the king of misleading supremacist movies.

    Perhaps he should go to Palestine and see what happens there as well, by the hands of his own torture-defending "mother" country. It would be then interesting to see if his opinion on "crimes against humanity" changes, not to mention the yet-to-be-found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq...go figure.

  18. Robert Long

    @Olly (again)

    "Whether we like it or not China is important in the world and the option of ostracising her is not there."

    Part of the reason that option is not available is there is that those who would support that action (including me, obviously) have little power to affect our own governments, and a part of the reason for THAT is the public relations machine which works day and night to tell people not to worry about our new friend's tendency to beat the hell out of people who just want paid for the work they do.

    The Olympics is part of China's propaganda exercise, sure, but it is more importantly the tool of our own government's efforts to get us to accept slavery-derived cheap goods without objecting.

  19. Eduard Coli
    Thumb Down

    Les hear it for Spielberg, Ban the 08 Peoples Olympics

    With child labor making all of the souvenirs and workers dying to build the crummy stadiums so the pollution doesn't kill the athletes too quickly I'm going to boycott the 08 Peoples Games too.

    I'd really like to know how the BOA (spine of rubber) does not interpret Section 51 this as a gag clause?

    "The BOA later said it was not its intention to restrict athletes' freedom of speech, and clarified that the participants were simply required to sign, as is normal practice, an agreement which "makes them aware of Section 51 of the International Olympic Committee's charter", viz: that competitors "must refrain from any kind of demonstration or engaging in any political, religious or racial propaganda at Olympic sites".

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Steven is not stupid.

    More than likely it shocked him that anyone could be so irresponsible as to sell arms to anyone in that part of the world so maybe he shouldn't be so naive and yes it's done by almost every country that has an arms industry no reason he can't show his displeasure in this way (futile as it seems to be).

  21. Ishkandar


    I would applaud his integrity more if he now gives up his US citizenship and refuse to work for any American business because the US government "waterboards" (i.e. tortures) suspects in contravention to all human rights and then proudly announces that they will *CONTINUE* to do so !!

    Until then, I think it is just a cheap publicity stunt for his own benefit !! He has dropped way, way down in my esteem !!

    It's mostly Americans and their lap-dogs that are making the noises linking the Chinese Olympics to Darfur simply because the Chinese are getting the oil they want and they dare not try another "regime change" !! What have they done about the millions starved to death in Zimbabwe where there is no oil for them to fight over ??

    Still, a sucker is born every minute* and they'll jump on any bandwagon if someone bangs the drum loud enough !!

    *P T Barnum

  22. Jack Coupal, Ph.D.

    To keep his reputation...

    Speilberg wants to keep his fine movie-making reputation. It would be easiest for him to criticize the Chinese directly. Their human-rights abuses are legendery.

    But to stay in the good graces of the Progressives in Hollywood, Speilberg decided to criticize the Devil-once-removed, Sudan. Criticizing China directly is just way too un-cool!

  23. Daniel B.
    Thumb Down

    Ahh... the Olympics

    You know, you'd think that if all these "activists" really gave a flying fudge about human rights, there would have been some of them boycotting Mexico 68. You know, that October 2, 1968 student meeting that ended up being a mass murder massacre, decades before Tiananmen... and it occured DAYS before the Olympics innauguration.

    However, the mere fact that the Olympics were taking place here, made the thing get a worldwide coverage. There were eventually changes, but that took some time; too sad that the current president seems to be reverting to the pre-1968 days of opressive police forces.

    I think that more than anywhere, the Olympics can be something that put people's eyes on a specific country; the 1968 student movement in Mexico was sparked in part because of the Olympics. Even after 2-October, there were a few dissenting voices, like the giant "black dove" that flew over the Olympic Stadium as a sign of protest for the massacre.

    I didn't see the US complaining much about this, though...

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Actually, the Olympics were NEVER about peace and brotherhood...

    Actually, the Olympics were NEVER about peace and brotherhood. That's just BS. Romantic 19th-century Europeans gave the Olympic Games a meaning it never had.

    From what I read, in the original Olympic Games staged in ancient Greece, women, slaves and non-Greeks were never allowed to participate. So much for peace and brotherhood.

    The idea of the brotherhood of all humankind was actually an idea the ancient Greeks would have scoffed at. They always drew a very clear line between themselves and 'barbarians', or if there were ever any of them who really did believe in the brotherhood of all humankind, then they were the exceptions that prove the rule.

    The Games (at least as they are being run today) aren't even about the promotion of physical fitness. From what I heard, the toll exacted on Olympic athletes by the kind of training they need to go through leaves many of them utterly crippled by the time they reach their forties.

    So when Mia Farrow askes, "How can Beijing host the Olympic Games at home and underwrite genocide?" I would answer, "Why not? Who says the Games were ever about goodwill to all humanity anyway?"

    Don't get me wrong, by the way. I detest the current regime in China as much as anyone else. The human rights record of the CCP simply stinks to high heaven. What I don't consider appropriate is for anyone to use the Olympic Games as a lever against this stinking regime.

    Because, if the truth be known, the Olympic 'spirit' is actually perfectly indifferent to the values of humanity, if not hostile. :)

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