Jacob Christensen

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Boycott or No Boycott: The Political Scientists Weigh In

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This really seems†to be the big something something Beijing Olympics Boycott posting day.

Henry Farrell wonders if there isn’t a difference between 2008 and earlier boycotts:

As best I understand it (I am open to corrections if wrong), in the past, Olympics politics have concerned inter-state rivalry, and have been driven by decisions on the part of traditional political elites. … The dynamic driving the Beijing Olympics seems to me to be rather different; what we are seeing is that the politics of boycott is being driven by mass-publics, and most recently by protestors, rather than by political leaders.

Actually, things are a bit more complicated, as much of the discussion this time is about a political rather than an athletic boycott of the Beijing games.

One interesting point in the Danish discussion is that the political faultlines are non-obvious: That the – traditionally anti-Communist and pro-Taiwan – Danish People’s Party favours a boycott is not that surprising, but that the Liberals are against a boycott while the Conservatives are more or less in favour may be a bit surprising. The business community – which traditionally supports the Conservatives – would not be happy about a boycott. Add the intricate question about Crown Prince Frederik’s maybe-candidacy for the IOC and things get really complicated.

For professional opinions from the U.S., here are some links from Farrell’s post: Steve Clemons says “no!” while Daniel Drezner says “why not?”

Update: John Sides has this collection of polls about public attitudes towards a boycott of the 2008 Olympics. One thing I can’t see – and I’ve tried to find the original Danish Gallup poll – is whether the Danish poll was about the opening ceremony or the entire games.

Written by Jacob Christensen

April 8th, 2008 at 7:25 pm

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