The Monday Issue - By Derek Davis

IT is said that sport and politics should not mix.A noble sentiment but total bunkum in reality.Of course they mix and the seemingly innocuous tradition of carrying the Olympic torch, which yesterday went through London, showed that.

IT is said that sport and politics should not mix.

A noble sentiment but total bunkum in reality.

Of course they mix and the seemingly innocuous tradition of carrying the Olympic torch, which yesterday went through London, showed that.

Thousands of protestors made their objections to China's appalling human rights record and its crackdown on pro-independence activists in Tibet.


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While no one would question the Olympic ideal, the fact that China has been allowed to host the Games is seen as hypocritical and a tacit endorsement of its regime.

Of course the Government, mindful of the 2012 Olympics in London, will defend its decision to support the Beijing Games and backed Gordon Brown's direct involvement in the torch carrying, although the mere fact he had to do so from behind closed steel gates in front of a vetted audience tells its own story.

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In 1980 Britain refused to support the Moscow Olympics but did not go as far as a blanket ban. However they did refuse to allow servicemen to attend and Terry Marsh, a Royal Navy boxing team mate of mine, was denied the opportunity to win a medal, which would probably have been gold.

Marsh went on to be a world champion but he was understandably miffed at the time but the point was made for what good it did.

Ironically the protest was against the Russian troops being in Afghanistan and nearly two decades later, it is British soldiers and Royal Marines, of which Marsh was once a member, trying to sort out the Taliban.

Athletes will argue that they only want to run, jump, throw or whatever but many with a conscience have already refused to carry the torch and good on them.

An individual not going to the Games will have little impact but the more that voice their concern at what China is doing and Britain ignoring, the more likely that eventually the world will take notice and action hopefully taken.

As much as some people would like to separate sport from politics, especially in this case, there will always be a crossover.

Sport has a powerful voice in many things, including politics, and every one of those who peacefully protested yesterday should be applauded as much as any competitor.

TALKING of double standards, what respect did Sir Alex Ferguson show to the officials and opposing manager Gareth Southgate at the end of Manchester United's 2-2 draw with Middlesbrough?

Ferguson was so busy berating the fourth official about some decision or other he appeared to ignore Southgate's proffered hand and the Boro boss had to wait until later for a word with the supposed advocate of the FA's Respect campaign.

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