The Olympics matter more than just the medals

The year 2020 came and went without the Olympic Games held in Tokyo. But if you care about America’s international position, then you should be most grateful that the Japanese government and the Olympic Committee allowed the games in 2021. In Tokyo, August of 2021, we showed the world and ourselves that the United States is what she always was, the leader of the world. These were the most important Olympic Games since 1936 in Berlin. A bigger show of the strength of the individual standing up to communism than the Miracle on Ice in 1980. Because the games did come a year late. And that was just on time. Right now, there are a lot of doubts in our nation, from her people and otherwise.

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In recent years it has not been rare that the United States comes second: second in economic growth, second in roadway system length, second in manufacturing, and we all know who was coming first. To the international community as a whole, there has been a red threat creeping up since the 1970s.

China was always a population center of the world. But due to the suffering brought by imperialism from Japan and Britain, a stronger than usual sense of pride in their traditions, lack of unification, and constant warfare in East Asia in the 19th and 20th centuries, they were still a minor player in everything except for manpower for a long time. Economic growth started after the Communist Party took power in the 1950s. It was evident by the end of the Nixon administration that China’s new economic reform would push them to the world stage, not helped by Nixon’s 1972 visit to the cities of China. This is referred to by many as “The week that changed the world,” and I say that is almost an understatement.

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The Communist Party is now the recognized leader of the largest country on the planet, and now the whole world is open to doing business with the already growing economy. It is important to remember that before this visit, the Republic of China (Taiwan) was deemed the legitimate government of all China and the Communist Party was but an insurgence that no one wanted to do business with.

But now, they are open to the world. They are our largest trade partner. Japan’s largest trade partner. The European Union’s largest trade partner. The number one exporter in the world – communist China. This has lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese out of poverty. Raised the life expectancy in China by decades. Almost doubled the Chinese literacy rate. And put more Chinese people through college than any other country in the world. These are all great things, and any reasonable person knows it is good to see the life expectancy grow in the country with over 10% of the world’s population.

But there is a darkness lurking behind this economic growth, healthcare development, and educational growth. That comes back to the communists in charge. The Communist Party in China, founded by Mao Zedong and headed by Xi Jinping, has had a history of ruthlessness that continues to this day. Cultural genocide, brutal individual oppression, overarching government control of every aspect of life, and a Machiavellian ideology that has persisted since the Chinese Communist Party took power. This is the dark side of communist China.

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To break down the severity of what people in China deal with, I will give a popular modern example, the communist control of the internet. China’s government has taken complete control of the internet and media. Here in the United States, we take it for granted that if we look something up on our web browser, we will find something unbiased; though that may not be true anymore, we still have little to no government control over our internet use. We are allowed to visit any website that follows common law. In China, the Communist Party claims the power to be able to ban anything they deem harmful.

I can only highlight so much about the crimes against humanity in China. But the most severe of what has occurred recently is a cultural genocide on the Muslim Uyghur people of Eastern China. The Chinese government has been systematically removing Uyghur culture and people from the East Turkestan province of China. By giving no protection to the Uyghurs of the region, their share of the population is now less than half. And the Chinese government has arrested and “reeducated” thousands of Uyghurs every year of the 21st century.

Though there are many fields where the People’s Republic may be passing the established leading nations, sports has also sprung about recently. Five years ago, in the 2016 Olympic Summer Games, the US swept the games. Winning with almost twice as many gold medals as China. China was still starting to show signs of rising in athletic prestige but lacked the overall strength of the established Olympic leaders, the United States and the United Kingdom.

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But this past year, even just in qualifications, we could see that China was a rising threat in the Olympic Games. China qualified with more athletes than ever before, and they wanted to show that they could beat America. Throughout the beginning of the Olympic Games, China and Japan were juggling being on top of the gold medals. But throughout the last few days, America pulled through and finished the Olympics in Tokyo with the most gold medals and the most medals total.

The Olympics were a bit of a media failure in the United States this year. Most people only checked in occasionally. But this is a mistake. The Olympic Games project power and dominance on a global scale, and these Olympic Games showed us and the world that communist China, while gaining in power and prestige, still cannot defeat the United States of America.

John Lauer is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.