D’Olympie à l’impasse

PARIS – « On ne mélange pas sport et politique ! » L’appel provocateur des dirigeants chinois face à la menace d’un boycott des Jeux olympiques de Pékin ne passe pas le test de la réalité. Sport et politique ont toujours été étroitement liés.

Les exemples abondent. En 1936, les Jeux de Berlin étaient autant marqués par la propagande nazie que par les prouesses athlétiques. Durant la Guerre froide, la « diplomatie du ping-pong » a contribué à raviver les relations officielles entre la Chine et les Etats-Unis. En 1990, l’Allemagne n’a fait jouer qu’une seule équipe olympique avant la réunification du pays.

L’affirmation que politique et sport sont encore plus séparés à l’ère des médias que par le passé est particulièrement naïve. Les Jeux olympiques ont été attribués à Pékin pour un ensemble de raisons économiques et politiques ; d’ailleurs, la Chine voulait les Jeux pour les mêmes raisons. Les tensions actuelles entre la Chine et (la majeure partie de) l’opinion publique occidentale à la veille des Jeux de Pékin sont le résultat d’incompétences, d’hypocrisie et d’indignation légitime mais potentiellement plus néfaste que bénéfique.

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