A group claiming human rights abuses against Chinese minorities is calling for a full-scale boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. This is a move that is likely to put pressure on the International Olympic Committee, athletes, sponsors and sports federations.
A coalition representing Uighurs, Tibetans, Hong Kong residents, etc. issued a statement on Monday calling for a boycott, avoiding less measures that came to mind like a “diplomatic boycott” and conducting further negotiations with the IOC or China. It was.
“The time to talk to the IOC is over,” Radon Teton of the Tibetan Institute for Action said in an exclusive interview with the Associated Press. “It can’t be a game or a business as usual. It’s not for the IOC, it’s not for the international community.”
The Beijing Olympics are scheduled to begin on February 4, 2022, just six months after the postponed Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Rights groups met with the IOC several times last year and demanded that the game be removed from China. The main member of these talks was Zumretay Arkin of the World Uyghur Congress.
Teton himself was detained and deported from China in 2007, a year before the Beijing Summer Olympics, for leading a Tibetan campaign.
“The situation we are in now is clearly worse than it was then,” said Teton, noting that the 2008 Olympics will improve China’s human rights. “As the game progresses, Beijing gets a sign of international approval for what they are doing.”
The promotion of the boycott was the day before the joint hearing in the US Congress focusing on the Beijing Olympics and China’s human rights records, and shortly after the US Olympic Commission stated that the boycott was ineffective and only hurt athletes. It is done.
“People have endeavored to engage the IOC in good faith to help them understand the problem directly from the mouth of the most affected people, such as the Uighurs and Tibetans at the top of the list. “Tethong said. “It is clear that the IOC has no interest in what the actual impact of people on the earth is.”
The IOC reiterates that it is “neutral” and needs to avoid participating in politics. The Swiss-based organization is essentially a sports business, with about 75% of its revenue coming from the sale of broadcast rights and more than 18% from sponsors. He also holds the position of observer in the United Nations.
“We are not a super-world government,” said IOC President Thomas Bach recently.
China’s foreign ministry has criticized “politicalization of sports,” saying the boycott is “destined to fail.” China has denied accusations of genocide against Uighurs.
A recent US State Department report clearly states that “crimes against humanity and slaughter” have occurred against Muslim Uighurs and other minorities in the western region of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region over the past year.
Teton said he knew that some athletes could oppose it. But she said other people who were driven by the Black Lives Matter movement could become allies. She acknowledged this as a “glove-off” moment.
“Obviously, many people are worried about athletes and their lifelong work,” Teton said. “But in the end, it was the IOC that put them in this position and should be held accountable.”
Two-time Olympic gold medalist American skier Mikaela Shiffrin elaborated on the athlete’s dilemma in a recent interview with CNN.
“You certainly don’t want to be in a position to choose between moral human rights and being able to do your job,” she said.
Tethong has suggested that coalition members may lobby the IOC’s top 15 sponsors, the American network NBC.
Activists are already paying attention to IOC sponsor Airbnb.
“The first is a moral question,” Tethong said. “Is it okay to hold an international friendly sporting event such as the Olympics while the host country is genocide right in front of the stand?”
At a meeting with the IOC, activists said they wanted to see documents that China gave “guarantees” about the human rights situation. Activists say the IOC has not created the document.
The IOC included human rights requirements in the host city contract for the 2024 Paris Olympics a few years ago, but did not include these guidelines on Beijing (the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights). Paris is the first Olympic Games to include standards that have long been promoted by human rights groups.
Last week, human rights groups and Western nations led by the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany accused China of a large-scale crime against a Uighur minority and demanded unhindered access from UN experts.
At the conference, United Nations Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Barbara Woodward, called the situation in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region “one of the worst human rights crises of our time.”
“Evidence shows a program of repression of a particular ethnic group,” Woodward said. “Religious expressions have been criminalized, and Uyghur and culture are systematically and extensively discriminated against.”