On Message: German Olympic Team's New Shirts
A group of German athletes designed and promoted wristbands that say Sports for Human Rights, with proceeds going to Amnesty International. Yvonne Bönisch, who won a gold medal in judo in 2004, has said she will boycott the opening ceremony to protest human rights violations in Tibet. German businesses even got into the act. The chief executive of Volkwagen, Martin Winterkorn, speaking at a shareholders’ meeting in April, urged China to “open up their society.” Volkswagen was the first foreign automaker to enter the Chinese market and is a sponsor of the Beijing Games.
So perhaps it should come as no surprise that at a send-off for the German Olympic team Saturday, the German Olympic Sports Confederation was presented with T-shirts with slogans like “Fair Games,” “Sport for Human Rights,” “Celebrate Humanity,” “Free Tibet” and “Free China.” According to Agence France-Presse, the T-shirts were given by a group of former German athletes, including Dieter Baumann, who won the 5,000 meters at the Barcelona Games in 1992, and the sprinter Ines Geipel. The shirts will be available to wear at the German House in Beijing, which has been set up by the federation for its athletes, their guests and news conferences.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has taken a hard line on China, saying that she will not attend the opening ceremony. (The former Chancellor Gerhard Schroder is going, reflecting two different approaches to China.)