Over 160 Human Rights Groups Urge IOC to Move the Olympics From China

Cathy He
By Cathy He
September 9, 2020Sports News
Over 160 Human Rights Groups Urge IOC to Move the Olympics From China
A man wearing a protective mask, following an outbreak of the disease COVID-19, walks past walk past the Olympic rings in front of the Japan Olympics Museum in Tokyo, Japan, on March 13, 2020. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

More than 160 human rights groups have demanded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) pull the 2022 Winter Olympics from China, citing the Chinese regime’s broadening campaign of repression since the 2008 Olympic Games.

A coalition of rights campaigners, including Tibetan, Uyghur, and Hong Kong groups, urged IOC President Thomas Bach in a letter delivered on Sept. 8 to “reverse its mistake” in selecting Beijing to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. The letter was given ahead of the body’s executive board meeting in Switzerland on Wednesday.

The prestige from hosting the 2008 Olympics—far from spurring the regime to improve its human rights record—had “merely emboldened the Chinese government’s actions,” leading to “a gross increase on the assault on communities living under its rule,” the joint letter said.

“In 2008 the IOC assured the global community that China’s human rights record would improve as a result of staging the Games; instead we have seen the opposite,” Mandie McKeown of the International Tibet Network said in a statement. “The scale of the human rights crisis in Tibet, East Turkestan, and Hong Kong demands a rethink of where the 2022 Winter Olympics will be held.”

Since 2008, the Chinese Communist Party has established an “Orwellian surveillance state” in Tibet, detained more than 1 million Uyghur Muslims in the region of Xinjiang, presided over a crackdown on Hong Kong’s freedoms, sought to erase Mongolian culture in Inner Mongolia, and continues to persecute democracy activists, lawyers, and anyone deemed a threat by the regime, the letter said.

The groups urged the IOC to “demonstrate that it has the political will to abide by the Olympic Charter’s core principles about ‘human dignity.'”

“The IOC must not allow its moral authority to be put in jeopardy again,” the letter added.

Fengsuo Zhou, a U.S.-based Chinese rights activist and founder of Humanitarian China, said that the IOC’s decision to award Beijing with host city status was a “betrayal of the Olympic Charter and a transgression of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

“Ignoring China’s gross human rights abuses, IOC is instead empowering Beijing with the honor of hosting the Games,” Zhou said in a statement.

The Chinese regime on Wednesday accused the groups’ campaign of trying to politicize sport. “It is against the spirit of the Olympic charter and China firmly opposes it,” foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters at a regular briefing.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, in response to a question from an Epoch Times reporter at a briefing on Sept. 9 about whether President Donald Trump would support a U.S. boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics over the regime’s human rights abuses, said that she has not spoken to Trump specifically about this issue.

She added: “This president has always held China accountable. His actions very clearly show that. He has stood up to China unlike any president before him in modern history.”

The Trump administration has recently ramped up measures to hold the regime accountable for its abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. The United States has sanctioned Chinese officials and a paramilitary group for their role in overseeing Beijing’s repression of Uyghur Muslims. It has also slapped sanctions on Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, and other Chinese and Hong Kong officials for undermining freedoms in the city.

The IOC has also faced pressure from U.S. lawmakers to move the Winter Games out of China. In March, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a resolution urging the committee to rebid it to another country unless the Chinese regime addresses its human rights violations.

The IOC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

From The Epoch Times

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