Minority groups in China have called for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, which could put pressure on the International Olympic Committee, athletes, sponsors and sports federations.
A coalition of Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hong Kong residents and others issued a statement on Monday calling for a boycott, avoiding less means such as “diplomatic boycotts” and further talks with the IOC or China.
“The time to talk to the IOC is over,” Libon Tetong of the Tibetan Institute for Action told The Associated Press. “This can not be ordinary games or games as usual. not for the IOC, not for the international community. “
The Beijing Games will open on February 4, 2022, just six months after the end of the postponed Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Human rights groups have met with the IOC several times over the past year to demand that the games be withdrawn from China. A key member of those negotiations was Zumretay Arkin of the World Uyghur Congress.
Tethong himself was arrested and deported from China in 2007, a year before the Beijing Summer Olympics, for leading the Tibetan election campaign.
“The situation we are in now is clearly worse than it was then,” Tetong said, noting that the IOC says the 2008 Olympics will improve human rights in China. “If the Games continue, Beijing will receive the stamp of international approval for what it has done.”
The impetus for the boycott comes on the eve of the Beijing Olympics, a joint hearing on China’s human rights record, just days after the US Olympic ասաց Paralympic Committee said the boycott was ineffective and only harmed athletes.
“People have worked in good faith with the IOC to understand the issues from the mouths of the strongest, the Uyghurs at the top of the list, the Tibetans and others,” Tetong said. “Obviously, the IOC is completely disinterested in how it will actually affect people on the ground.”
The IOC has repeatedly said that it must be “neutral” and stay out of politics. The Swiss-based body is essentially a sports business, earning about 75% of its revenue from the sale of broadcasting rights and 18% more from sponsors. It has observer status at the UN.
“We are not a super-global government,” said IOC President Thomas Bach recently.
China’s Foreign Ministry has criticized the “politicization of sports” and said any boycott was “doomed to failure.” China has denied genocide allegations against the Uyghur people.
A recent State Department report made it clear that there had been “genocide, crimes against humanity” against Muslim minority Uyghurs and other minorities in the western Xinjiang region over the past year.
Tetong said he knew some athletes could oppose it. But he said others who captured the Black Lives Matter movement could become allies. He took it as a “glove moment”.
“Obviously there are a lot of people who have been concerned about athletes all their lives,” Tetong said. “But in the end, the IOC put them in this position; they must be held accountable.”
In a recent interview with CNN, American two-time Olympic gold medalist Milaela Shifri explained the dilemma faced by athletes.
“You certainly do not want to be in a situation where you have to choose between human rights, such as morality, and not do your job,” he said.
Tetong suggested that coalition members could lobby for the ICO’s top 15 sponsors, the US-based NBC network, which provides 40 percent of the IOC’s total revenue, sports federations, and civil society groups “to any listener.”
Activists have already singled out IOC sponsor Airbnb for attention.
“The first is the moral issue,” Tetong said. “OK, is it okay to hold an international goodwill sport like the Olympics when the host country commits genocide beyond the rostrum?”
During meetings with the IOC, activists said they had asked to see documents in which China had given “assurances” about human rights. Activists say the IOC did not provide the documents.
A few years ago, the IOC included human rights requirements in the contract for the host city of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, but it did not include those guidelines, the UN Principles for Business and Human Rights for Beijing. Paris is the first Olympic Games to meet the standards required by human rights groups.
Last week, human rights groups led by the United States, led by the United States, Britain and Germany, accused China of committing mass crimes against the Uyghur minority and demanded the unimpeded access of UN experts.
During the meeting, the British Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward called the situation in Xinjiang “one of the worst human rights crises of our time.”
“The evidence points to a program of repression of specific ethnic groups,” Woodward said. “Expressions of religion have been criminalized, և Uyghur և culture is discriminated against on a systematic և scale.”
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