The Beijing Olympics will be remembered for people like Michael Phelps, UsainBolt and Nastia Liukin. But we should also remember César Maxit. Don’t know César? He is a young Argentine-American architect living in Washington, DC. He is also a member of the protest group The Ruckus Society. That means that if scaling a wall with a banner or rapelling down the side of a building where the IMF was meeting was an Olympic sport, César would be in the contention for the gold (and if power walking is an Olympic sport, thenwhy not?)
César made the trip to Beijing along with four Tibetan-Americans to make a statement–any statement–for a free Tibet while the world waswatching China.
Before César could even plan his action, he was felled by unforeseenfoes: air and water. Pollution in Beijing will smack you like a rightcross. "I was laid up for days," he told me. "But then I thought, ‘Thisis nothing compared to what they go through in Tibet.’" César staggeredout for the opening ceremonies on 8-8-08 with his three compadres. Youdon’t travel across the world for Pepto Bismol.
As the delegations from all the countries lined up to enter the bird’snest, they tore away their jackets and exposed t-shirts that simply read"Team Tibet". Police descended upon them and tried to whisk them out ofsight. As César was carried away he yelled, "Free Tibet! Free Tibet!" Anofficer ran up and punched him in the face.
For the next several hours César and the others had black hoods put overtheir heads as they were interrogated, and occasionally kicked orsmacked on the head. "I thought I’d be safe," he said, "until the blackhoods."
The Chinese police, outfitted by General Electric with the latest in counter-insurgency fiberoptic intelligence, didnt have handcuffs and used César’s own belt to tie back his hands.
They were then told to sign a piece of paper admitting guilt and wereput on a plane and sent home.
César’s story isn’t one of gold medals and Bob Costas’s drooling, but it is as much a part of these games as anything done by Phelps: it’s the story of someone making the trip to Beijing, not for gold, but to be heard.