"A boycott doesn't solve anything." Well, doesn't it? Some boycotts do help solve some things. The boycott of South Africa by international competitions was probably the single most effective weapon the international community ever deployed against the apartheid state. ("They didn't mind about the business sanctions," a South African friend once told me, "but they minded -- they really, really minded -- about the cricket.") The boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics helped undermine Soviet propaganda about the invasion of Afghanistan and helped unify the Western world against it. I don't know for certain, but I'm guessing that from the Soviet perspective, the Soviet boycott of the Los Angeles Olympics four years later was successful, too. Presumably, it was intended to solidify opposition among the Soviet elite toward the United States in the Reagan years, and presumably it helped. (emphasis in the original)Actually, the reason why the South African sports boycott worked is that the overwhelming majority of nations supported the boycott. A boycott of the 2008 Olympics will not be supported by everyone and indeed not even by substantial minority of nations. The South African boycott took a long time to take hold and was in place for dozens of years before anything really changed in South Africa (which by the way still participated in the Olympic Games during the sports boycott).
Does anyone really expect China to change its mind about Tibet because a few "Western" nations have their collective drawers in a twist over a political situation that has been in place for what 50 years? Don't be ridiculous. Does anyone seriously think that boycotting the Olympics will force a policy change in Beijing? Again, don't be ridiculous!
Boycotting is not going to work, but demonstrations will. The world's media is going to be present at the Games and while athletes and coaches are prohibited or at least supposed to be prohibited from making political statements during the games, there is no such ban on the media, the spectators and travellers to the Beijing Games. I say, go protest and protest loudly. Let that atheltes make all kinds of statements in the weeks running up to the games and in the weeks after the Games, let the supporters and spectators chant as many anti-Chinese Anthems as they can fit in.
A boycott gives teh Chinese the cover they want. Demonstrations focus the white hot spotlight of the world's eye on their dirty laundry.
So which is more effective, a boycott or demonstrations?