Is a boycott of the Olympic Games by athletes a good thing?
It would certainly be a slap in the face for China and perhaps a wake up call but would it help the Tibetans? Probably not, and probably not even a little bit. Simply, the Chinese would be smarting from the perceived embarrassment of the whole thing. So, access to Tibet would likely become increasingly difficult and with the Chinese sure to blame the Tibetans for any boycott, then conditions in Tibet are likely to deteriorate even further.
Okay then what about a boycott by world leaders of the opening and closing ceremonies, is this a good thing? The answer to this question is also a resounding no! If you're are going to boycott then it needs to be the real deal and countries keep their athletes home and not their leaders.
There are serious problems in Tibet and these are not just human rights violations against the Tibetans. Although it is the human rights problems which might serve as the best means of engagement with the Chinese. However, indigenous Tibetans are a quickly becoming a minority in their own territory with the rapid movement of Chinese citizens from other regions into Tibet. This program of transmigration is not something unique to China. Indonesia also has a pretty comprehensive transmigration program that has often been considered to be a public policy aimed at Javanizing the archipelago in order to make governance easier.
The world needs to engage China in constructive dialogue and highlight the mutual benefits of improved human rights in an increasingly inter-dependent global market! The Dalai Lama is on record as saying that his struggle is not one for an independent Tibet but a Tibet that has fully functioning autonomy within a greater China. But the Dalai Lama does call for better treatment, more respect for the human rights of Tibetans, and the need for dialogue.
Perhaps this is now as good an opportunity as any to engage China in this dialogue.