Calls to Boycott China Winter Olympics Grow

Alex Mangels | | OlympicsOlympics
olympics boycott
Increased awareness of human rights violations in China may lead to a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics. Credit: Julian Finney / Getty Images

The 2022 Winter Olympics in China are just under a year away but already a hotly contested subject. Several groups and individuals have called for a boycott of the Winter Olympics, citing human-rights abuses against minorities by the Chinese government. As the list of objectors continues to grow, the appeals for a boycott have become tough to ignore.

The leading stance for a boycott comes from a coalition representing Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hong Kong residents, and other minority groups. The group suggests the idea of “diplomatic” boycotts that others have proposed is superficial. Instead, their directive outlines a full-blown boycott from competing nations, urging them not to attend the Games at all. Initially, representatives from different groups met with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to pitch moving the 2022 Winter Games from China. After the IOC decided that they would not move the Games, the call for a hard boycott began.

China has a recent history of human rights abuse. One of the recent notable cases is the relationship with Hong Kong. A large number of Hong Kong residents have advocated for democracy and separation from China. Their efforts have seen a crackdown on pro-democracy activists as China seeks to hold authoritarian control over Hong Kong. Officials have gone so far as to criminalize any insults against the Chinese national anthem.

China has also restricted the freedoms of religion and beliefs of its people. On February 1, the Chinese government enacted regulations stating that religious groups must “follow the leadership of the Communist Party of China… persist in the direction of sinicization of religion, and practice core socialist values.” Most notably, China continues to restrict religious practices in Tibet and oppress the Uyghur Muslims living in the Xinjiang region. In addition, the Chinese government has reportedly detained over 1 million Uyghurs in reeducation camps for the “crime” of being Muslim.

Many high-profile politicians have joined the call to boycott the Beijing Winter Games. Former UK Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith has spoken up, while the US Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, asked the US government not to attend the Games during a recent Congressional hearing. Democratic Congressman Jim McGovern called for a delay and relocation of the Games to 2023. Republican Chris Smith suggested corporate sponsors should be held accountable for supporting the games at the same hearing. President Biden has not yet expressed a stance on the issue.

As appeals for a boycott continue to grow, athletes are put in an increasingly difficult position. Athletes across most sports are beginning to use their platforms to speak about what they believe in more and more. However, the thought of abandoning a shot at competing in the Olympics is tough to swallow. Some activists argue the IOC has put them in this position by choosing not to relocate the Games, but this still puts tremendous pressure on the Olympic athletes. Either way, calling upon athletes to give up a once-in-a-lifetime dream is a hard ask. Mikaela Shiffrin was outspoken about the position athletes are in.

“You certainly don’t want to be put in the position of having to choose between human rights like morality versus being able to do your job, which on the other hand can bring light to some issues or can actually bring hope to the world at a very difficult time.”

-Mikaela Shiffrin

With increased pressure and a mounting boycott, hopefully, the IOC will rethink its decision not to relocate the 2022 Winter Olympics from China. The decision is understandably difficult, and the financial ramifications of moving the Games will be vast. Taking the Winter Games from China sends a strong message to the nation and other violators of human rights across the globe. If the IOC can commit to delaying the competition until 2023, it buys itself some time to find a suitable host. If they could delay the Summer Olympic Games because of a pandemic, they should push back the Winter Olympics to combat human rights violations.

olympics boycott china
A worker checks on a countdown board for the 2022 Winter Olympics in China. Credit: VCG

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8 thoughts on “Calls to Boycott China Winter Olympics Grow

  1. I fully support and petition the IOC to find another location to hold the 2022 Olympics even if that means multiple countries or locations. It is a moral imperative to hold Communist China accountable to human rights abuses and mass genocide. If that means that the Olympics need to be postponed to 2023, I support that postponement. Furthermore we should be “recycling” prior host venues of the olympics in years to come.

    1. Wtf kind of nonsense is this? Are you being sarcastic? What media do you consume? Are you aware that China, unlike the US, does not have 700 military bases around the and coup countries that try to nationalize their resources? Was it China that invaded Iraq? Did China invade Vietnam and use chemical weapons on civilians? Did China use nuclear weapons against Japan? Is China a settler-colonial state? Is China an imperialist state? No one thinks China’s state capitalist party oligarchy is a utopia but your accusations of human rights abuses and mass genocide are literally absurd if you are somehow not leveling them at US and European imperialists and neo-colonialists. Read a book or something before parroting this bs

      1. Dude the argument isn’t against Europe or the US. Yeah, they’ve both done some downright shitty stuff, but the current issue at hand is China. We need to focus on them first and foremost, because they are the ones actively engaging in genocide. Remember WWII? The active genocide should always take precedence over debates on the past decisions of other countries. I’m gonna end here because I’m more interested in skiing than debating in comment sections.

        1. Was it China’s military industrial proxy bombing an open air prison last week? What are you smoking? I’m not talking about the past. Have you heard of Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, Cuba? “Sanctions,” coups, war?

        1. Ah yes the bbc, the same outfit that wouldn’t stop spreading wmd lies to prep for invading Iraq and fawns over the imperial monarchy sitting on stolen wealth and blood? In fact they recently reported that uyghurs were being prevented from celebrating eid. When footage of mass celebrations emerged they claimed the celebrants were all paid actors. You can’t make this shit up. Even if all of the anti-Chinese propaganda gearing up for a new Cold War were true how can we only apply the standard to them? US/European/proxy human rights abuses and genocide in Yemen, Syria, Palestine, Colombia, Iran, Cuba, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc, don’t count? Don’t Chinese abuses pale in comparison to these?

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