Calls for boycott grow as the world counts down one year to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing
With only a year left until the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, 7 U.S. senators presented a resolution that asked the International Olympic Committee to find another city to host the Olympics, while 180 human rights groups issued an open letter calling on other countries to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics.
A group of seven U.S. senators introduced a resolution on Wednesday, attempting to remove the 2022 Winter Olympics from China. They urge the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to rebid the right to host the 2022 Winter Olympics so the event could be held by a country that “recognizes and respects human rights.”
“China is committing genocide against the Uighurs in Xinjiang, restricting the human rights of Hong Kongers, and threatening Taiwan,” Senator Rick Scott wrote in statement following the introduction of the resolution. “Communist China should not be allowed to host the 2022 Olympic Games while simultaneously running concentration camps, violating human rights and systematically oppressing the people of Hong Kong.”
Jen Psaki, the White House spokesperson said on Tuesday that she has seen some reports about the call for boycotting the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, but she reiterated that Washington hasn’t changed its approach to the 2022 Winter Olympics.
180 human rights groups call for Winter Olympics boycott
On Wednesday, a coalition of 180 human rights groups released an open letter calling on governments to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. They referred to China’s human rights record as a reason for the boycott.
The coalition, including organizations advocating for the rights of the Uyghurs, Tibetans and Hong Kongers, said since China was awarded the right to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping has been cracking down on basic freedom and human rights in an unrelenting manner.
Human Rights Watch also issued a statement on the same day, saying that The IOC Evaluation Commission wrote in a report related to China in January 2015 that Beijing assured the IOC that they would respect human rights as a condition for them to be awarded the right to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. However, Human Rights Watch said the IOC didn’t specify how they would monitor human rights situation in China.
“The IOC knows the Chinese authorities are arbitrarily detaining Uyghurs and other Muslims, expanding state surveillance, and silencing numerous peaceful critics,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. “Its failure to publicly confront Beijing’s serious human rights violations makes a mockery of its own commitments and claims that the Olympics are a ‘force for good.’”
Teng Biao, a Chinese legal scholar living in the United States, said when he met officials from the IOC, he reminded them of the fact that Beijing also failed to uphold its promise of respecting human rights while hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics. Instead, China used the chance to promote itself.
“The IOC insisted that sports should be separated from politics and sports should be used to promote diversity,” he said. “However, China’s persecution of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang constitutes termination of cultural and ethnic diversity, so the IOC’s response and attitude are very disappointing. Their attitude is against the spirit of the Olympic Charter.”
In a statement shared with the media, IOC said concerns raised by human rights groups have been raised with the Chinese government and local authorities.
Beijing warns of attempts to sabotage the 2022 Winter Olympics
On Wednesday, the spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Wang Wenbin said the 2022 Winter Olympics would be a “wonderful and outstanding event.”
“At the same time, I would also like to point out that politically motivated attempts to interfere or disrupt the preparations of the Games is very irresponsible,” he referred to the open letter. “Such a move won’t be supported by the international community and won’t succeed.”
The 2022 Winter Olympics is scheduled to begin on February 4, 2022, which is six months after the delayed Tokyo Summer Olympics. Preparations for the Winter Olympics have been delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
China has been facing global scrutiny over a range of human rights issues, including the mass-internment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang and its crackdown on basic rights and freedom in Hong Kong.
This piece was first published in Mandarin on DW’s Chinese website.