The news that Steven Spielberg will pull out of the Olympic Games was not surprising --- he had indicated that he would take some sort of action if there was no major progress on Darfur by the end of 2007.
His action is bound to ignite further calls for others involved in the Games to pull out, and will put new pressure on corporate sponsors to in turn pressure China. Just hours after his announcement, Human Rights Watch issued a release in which it said that "corporate sponsors are putting their reputations at risk unless they work to convince the Chinese government to uphold the human rights pledges it made to bring the Games to Beijing."
Spielberg's most vocal critic, Mia Farrow, told Variety's Winter Miller that the director's decision was "absolutely great."
"I couldn't be happier at a more hopeless moment. It has been a terrible week in Darfur, three towns were attacked sending 200,000 more people fleeing for their lives. I'm pleased he stepped forward and declared it a matter of conscience. The hope is that Spielberg's voice will be heard around the world, and that sponsors and supporters of the Beijing Olympics will use their leverage with China to force Sudan to cease the slaughter of civilians and admit an effective peacekeeping force.
"This is exactly what China didn't want, they don't want their games sullied. No spitting on the ground, no chewing gum, and now the most famous director in the world has said he can't participate in their Olympics as a matter of conscience. This is huge. It is a defining moment for China. China and China alone has the power to influence Khartoum."