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The Olympics, China and Darfur...

| 14:12 UK time, Tuesday, 7 August 2007

We're off air now..we had a really good response to today's debate. Take a look at the comments...and keep posting your thoughts.

Morning / afternoon / evening. Peter Dobbie here with news of today's World Have Your Say, on BBC World Service radio at 17:00 GMT

Should the forthcoming Olympics be political, or rather should it be politicised and used as a campaigning tool to help sort out the world's problems. This is pretty important right now because the Beijing Olympics are just a year away and a gold (and silver) medal winning U.S athlete has been ruffling a few feathers. Joey Cheek hand-delivered a massive petition of 40,000 signatures to the Chinese embassy, fronting a group who're committed to ending genocide in Sudan's Darfur region. The people who've signed the petition want Beijing to redouble efforts to help save Darfur's civilian population.

This is something of a double-whammy for the government in Beijing because it comes hard on the heels of human rights groups ramping up the pressure on China's leaders -- telling them to improve civil liberties and press freedoms -- remember, these are pledges it promised to fulfil in its winning bid to host the games. Amnesty International says Chinese authorities have violated those promises by heightening abuse and surveillance of political and religious dissidents, jailing journalists, and closing publications focusing on social development. Hard hitting stuff.

Well today we want to explore the idea of the Olympics being left as they are: a festival of international sport living up to the ideals of healthy competition. Or, on the other side of the argument we have what Joey Cheek might call the reality of the modern world: using the Olympics and the fact that they're being held in Beijing to focus on crises such as Darfur, while turning the spotlight on China itself, all at the same time.
Did you sign the Joey Cheek petition? Would you have signed it if you could have? Will it make any difference? On the broader issue: should the Olympics be left as it is, or as it aspires to be - sports men and women doing their thing. Or should we not only allow it to be politicised in this way, should we infact embrace the idea that such a forum can work as a force of change, a force for good. Let us know what you think.

Short and fat people may get rights...

Also today: the American state of Massachusetts could become just the second state to bar discrimination based on somebody's weight or height. The reasoning seems to be that people in authority (your boss, your co-workers) will very easily make comments about weight and height that they wouldn't make about race or gender. One 59 year old who weighs in at 300 pounds says that "no matter what you think of fat people, they deserve to be treated like human beings''. But one Republican analyst, being quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times, Todd Domke is concerned that lawmakers will scare off businesses if they expand protection to include short and overweight workers. What do you think of an attitude which says ''we might as well add colour-blind, left-handed, allergic-to-cashews, and get it over with’’?

So, are there serious issues here - are you over-weight, or short? How do people treat you? Have you treated someone differently because they're on the big-side of medium? Should we understand when it comes to weight problems? Is it, however, as simple as saying that being fat is a choice? People can’t choose their gender, or the race -- so it's not the same as having a go at someone over their sex or their colour, or is it?

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Talk to you later, Peter :-)


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