China Bans Mentally Ill from Olympics
Sad and angry? Yes. Surprised? No. That's my basic reaction to a nine-page document issued by the Beijing Olympic organizing committee.
The document lists who will be denied a visa and entry to China for the Olympics. That list includes those with "mental diseases."
Ironically, China has lifted a longstanding rule that banned people with leprosy from entering the country. A government official stated, "The reason we lifted the ban is that the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution on June 18 for the elimination of discrimination against leprosy sufferers."2 At the same time that they relaxed the rules regarding leprosy, the Beijing Olympic Committee left in place rules that ban those with mental illness, sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, and HIV.
It's worth noting that the United States also may refuse a visa "if you have physical, mental or behavioral disorders that might pose a threat to property, safety or welfare of others." In the US, a waiver can be obtained and a visa granted if your illness is resolved or satisfactorily treated.
So, why was I not surprised by this document from the Beijing Olympic organizing committee? Because China has such a poor record for recognizing human rights. This is a country where, in the past, women were forced to have abortions if they became pregnant and already had a child... where students and others were shot down in Tiananmen Square. More recently, there has been a great deal of upheaval in Tibet, which China controls. In March, the Dalai Lama said that "during the past few years Tibet has witnessed increased repression and brutality."4
What I question is why, in light of China's poor treatment of their own people, are the Olympic games being held there and why are U.S. athletes participating? Add to all of the above that the polution is so bad in Beijing that our athletes are wearing masks for protection, and one really must wonder why U.S. athletes there there.
1 "China prepares to ban foreign 'undesirables' from the Olympics... even if they have a ticket." The Daily Mail Online. June 2, 2008.
2 Spencer, Richard. "Beijing Olympics 2008: China bars businessmen, but lepers okay." Telegraph.col.uk. July 24, 2008.
3 Imigrant Visa FAQs: Government expectations. www.visafaq.com.
4 Majendie, Paul. "Don't streak, get drunk or sleep outside." Reuters. guardian.co.uk. August 1, 2008.