21st May 2021
Groups alleging human-rights abuses against minorities in China are calling for a full-blown boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Representatives from the World Uyghur Congress, Campaign for Uyghurs, Tibet Action Institute, We The Hongkongers, Students for a Free Tibet and China Against the Death Penalty have come together to put pressure on Beijing 2022 officials and the International Olympic Committee.
In a joint statement, they said: “Participating in the Beijing Olympics at this time would be tantamount to endorsing China’s genocide against the Uyghur people, and legitimising the increasingly repressive policies of the totalitarian Chinese regime.”
“We believe athletes are people of conscience who have the power to use their platforms to stop injustice. We call on them and those who believe in the right of all people to exist and to live free from fear and oppression to join our movement.”
In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Lhadon Tethong of the Tibet Action Institute -who was detained and deported from China in 2007, a year before the Beijing Summer Olympics, for leading a campaign for Tibet- said: "The situation where we are now is demonstrably worse that it was then,", pointing out that the IOC said the 2008 Olympics would improve human rights in China. "If the Games go ahead, then Beijing gets the international seal of approval for what they are doing."
During a hearing of the US Congress' Human Rights Commission yesterday (Tuesday), US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also called for a US diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, criticising China for human rights abuses and saying global leaders who attend would lose their moral authority.
Republican congressman Chris Smith, who led the hearing, said corporate sponsors should be called to testify before Congress and be “held to account … Big business wants to make lots of money, and it doesn’t seem to matter what cruelty - even genocide - that the host nation commits.”
Whilst demands from across the world for some form of boycott of the Beijing Games are growing, Sarah Hirshland, the chief executive officer of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, said in a written statement the committee was concerned about the “oppression of the Uyghur population,” but barring US athletes was “certainly not the answer”.
The Beijing Olympics are scheduled to start on February 4 just six months after the year-long-delayed Summer Games in Tokyo.
China has consistently denied accusations that it has committed genocide against the Uyghur population in the Xinjiang province.
Rights groups have met several times in the past year with the IOC, asking that the Games be removed from China, but the IOC has repeatedly said they must remain “neutral” and out of politics.