Boycott Watch  
April 14, 2008
Beijing Olympics Boycott - Failure Before Launch
Summary: An Olympic boycott will only hurt the U.S.
Part 3 in a series of reports on the Beijing Olympics boycotts

    I recently stated President Bush can not afford to snub China and the Beijing Olympics because China holds so much US debt that even a threat of calling in that debt can have a dramatic affect on the U.S. economy. Recently, however, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced he will not be attending the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, but will be attending the closing ceremony instead. In perspective, the British do not have as much at stake as the U.S. when it comes to an Olympic boycott, but a large number of world leaders boycotting the opening ceremony would give President Bush a valid excuse, at least in the eyes of China, to also not attend the opening ceremony as long as he attends some other major events, such as the closing ceremony. In essence, Prime Minister Brown may have created a de facto way out for President Bush, at least politically.

    The problem remains, however, that a general boycott against the Olympics by consumers will not affect China, which is the target of the boycott. At this point, sponsorships are a done deal, and the merchandising plans for memorabilia such as t-shirts, for example, are also a done deal, even four months before the Olympics. This is because the printing has to be done early so the t-shirts can be loaded on containers, shipped around the world, and finally delivered to retail stores. China has already been paid, so the remaining question is if American businesses, thus the shareholders, will get a paycheck.

    The pressure to boycott is growing, both to sponsors of the entire Olympics and sponsors of Team U.S.A. In both cases, these sponsors are essentially advertisers who are looking for their company logo to be displayed as widely as possible on television in hopes of a strong return on investment. The main difference between the two are that general Olympic sponsors get their logos on venues such as arenas, while team sponsors have to boast their sponsorships in other advertisements. In both cases, large investments are involved because of the national and world-wide reach of the Olympics, thus these sponsorships must be by large corporations with deep pockets. These companies, therefore, have signed contracts with obligatory payments long ago.

    From an economic standpoint, the Olympics can be compared to two weeks of daily football championship games, where Americans will watch the big games to see how the home team, Team U.S.A. in this case, will do. It is an opportunity, or sometimes an excuse for Americans to buy new wide-screen TV's and audio systems so they can hear announcers scream GOOOOAAAALLLLL in surround sound stereo. It is also an opportunity for Americans to show their nationalistic pride every time we win a medal, preferably gold. It is a chance for Americans to feel great at the water cooler and splurge a little when they go to lunch with co-workers.

    In essence, the Olympics are a time when Americans from all cities can stand together with pride as our national athletes compete for the U.S. as a nation, and take pride in the accomplishments of people who we never met, but will remember forever as Mary Lou, the Miracle on Ice Team, and Jesse Owens, among other greats. All this national pride and fun will result in Americans spending money they otherwise would not have, thus stimulating the economy. This is because happy consumers spend more for things that make them even happier, thus having a stronger stimulating affect on the economy than a tax rebate check to pay existing credit card bills.

    The reason cities want to host major sporting events is the money and pride it brings into that city. While the Olympics are not in the U.S. this year, every American city can benefit when retailers have a surge in sales, especially for big ticket items, not to mention the increase in beer sales both in and out of sports bars, plus t-shirts and other memorabilia.

    If American consumers are going to boycott the Olympics, the US economy will be affected and not China's. The boycotters complain about China's treatment of Tibet, but have yet to do anything about it other than protest to America. Rather than complain to companies who want to advertise to and do business with Americans, a smarter move would be to complain to businesses about why whey are not investing in Tibet.

    The Wall Street Journal recently reported that U.S. companies have invested almost one hundred billion dollars in China, but only a few hundred million dollars in Tibet. Surpassing Hong Kong as China's economic monster should be the goal of Tibet and its freedom activists. Although China controls Hong Kong, the communist government effectively has little power over the island except for passport control. If people want to see improvements in Tibet, they should demand investment in Tibet, not boycott of China or the Olympics.

E-Mail This Page to a Friend
Enter the recipient's e-mail address:

(Click here to return to top of page)
 ©2003-2008 Boycott Watch