Why do the Olympic Games get targeted? Because they are a symbolic display, which also happens to be exactly what a boycott is. This is exactly why China bid for and will spend so much money hosting the '08 games, as a symbol to the world of their national might. Remember the articles about all of the resources they have thrown into their national sports programs to try to win the medal count? Mention of the original foundations and intents of the Olympic Games is ridiculous and pollyannaish, it is trite and irrelevant in the modern world. Those ideals were scuttled by officials long ago. Forget Moscow, did no one learn from Munich and Montreal? It is simplistic to focus on one boycott to the exclusion of other (earlier) precedents. Did the boycotts targeting South African inclusion in '72 and '76 not draw the world's attention to the ugliness of apartheid? The boycott was not a solution in and of itself, yet a whole lot more awareness and thus action resulted. As mentioned already in this thread, it allows a huge education opportunity regarding human rights issues on a world stage.
“The sporting boycott has often been cited as the most powerful of the tactics taken to isolate South Africa.”
Money may talk, but if consumers are ignorant of the gravity and scope of the situation (and I suspect some here are among the ignorant) then they are not making informed decisions with how money (their own, the nation's) is being spent. “Targeting their goods” will not happen unless and until there is greater education as to China's past, current, and ongoing human rights abuses, and for whatever reason(s) that is not happening in the land of “Singing Bee” and whatnot. Even then, targeting their goods only hurts the Chinese people, not the government, just as the archaic Cuban embargo hurts Castro and his cronies none at all, it only hurts the citizenry of that country. The best way to hurt the government is to target expenditures (travel permits, etc.) that go directly to it and symbols that support their policies (Olympic Games, etc.) Also, if Germany and Canada could not be pushed into Iraq by the US then it is likely that they would not be pushed to a boycott by the US. Anyway, there is a greater good to consider here that goes well beyond the desires of some (chiefly) privileged athletes, and if a boycott could help further humanity towards that end (it would), then I am all for it. Personally, I prefer something more like the what Tommie Smith and John Carlos did in '68, though of course that demonstration had a very personal aspect for both of them and such motivation would not exist for any non-Chinese athlete so therefore it would be quite unlikely in this situation.