February 4, 2022

Winter Olympics

The 2022 Winter Olympics open Friday [in Beijing] under heavy security and warnings from officials that athletes or others could face legal action if they speak out on human rights or other touchy issues. The Games are a reminder of both China’s rise and its disregard for civil liberties, which has prompted a diplomatic boycott led by the United States…

“Rights groups have documented forced labor, mass detentions and torture, and the U.S. has called China’s internment of at least 1 million Uyghurs genocide. China has also come under criticism over the near-disappearance from public view of tennis star Peng Shuai after she accused a former senior member of the ruling Communist Party of sexually assaulting her.” AP News

Both sides condemn the Chinese government’s human rights abuses and the decision to hold the Olympics in Beijing:

Remember the 2008 Beijing Games? China was dazzling the world with its economic prowess and technological sophistication, determined to impress with its soft power. Praise filled the headlines in countries such as Australia, Britain and the United States… London’s Evening Standard described the event as ‘the beginning of China’s new era of greatness, witnessed — and implicitly approved — by much of the leadership of the planet.’ And indeed, there was George W. Bush, the first American president to attend an Olympics in a foreign country, telling the press that the Beijing Games ‘exceeded my expectations.’…

“Compare that to the Beijing Winter Olympics that begin this week. Those same countries — the United States, Britain and Australia — have all announced a diplomatic boycott of the Games over human rights concerns. No major Western head of state is attending. The star of the show will be China’s ever-closer ally and satrap Vladimir Putin. The event itself is taking place without the usual screaming crowds and Olympic cheers.”
Fareed Zakaria, Washington Post

“The Chinese government and the International Olympic Committee want us to act like everything is normal and this is just another winter games taking place in some far-off foreign capital. But nothing about the Chinese government is normal right now — from the ongoing genocide of the Uyghurs to the crackdown in Hong Kong to the military aggression toward Taiwan to the refusal to cooperate with the WHO on the investigation into the origins of Covid-19 to the sudden disappearance and subsequent odd, seemingly coerced statements from tennis star Peng Shuai, who accused former vice premier Zhang Gaoli of sexually assaulting her…

“Chinese president Xi Jinping and the IOC have effectively placed a giant bet. They know you’re going to hear about the ongoing crimes of the Chinese government. They’re betting that you won’t care. They’re betting that once you hear the Olympic fanfare, you’ll get so swept up in the habitual biennial excitement that you shrug off the fact that the government hosting the games has at least a million people in concentration camps and is forcibly sterilizing ethnic and religious minorities… We must send a signal declaring, ‘No, this isn’t just another Olympics.’”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

“For years, countries that purport to be defenders of the world’s Muslims—among them Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey—have largely skirted the issue of China’s treatment of its Muslim population… Some of these countries have even aided the Chinese government’s efforts by deporting Uyghurs living within their borders back to China, where they are all but certain to face persecution… The Muslim world isn’t homogenous, of course. It spans dozens of countries on multiple continents and includes a wide array of cultures, languages, and interests…  

“But even with all of their diversity, majority-Muslim countries do occasionally find opportunities to speak with one voice. When it comes to issues such as Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, and even caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in Europe, you’d be hard-pressed to find Muslim leaders unwilling to speak out. But on the crisis in Xinjiang, and on China’s human-rights abuses more broadly, the response from these countries has been more erratic… That Muslim leaders have willfully chosen to ignore the plight of China’s Muslims is a testament to Beijing’s growing influence.”
Yasmeen Serhan, The Atlantic

Regarding the IOC, “An organization that rewards dictatorial regimes (Russia in 2014, and now China for the second time) with events that attract billions of eyeballs and sappy worldwide coverage — all while punishing athletes who stand up for human rights — is not apolitical or ‘promoting the Olympic spirit.’ It’s making money off and providing cover for brutal regimes that use the Games to burnish their image… China should never have been able to host the Games, and the international community should have threatened not to participate if the IOC went ahead anyway.”
Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post

“In December, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced that Washington wouldn’t send an official delegation to Beijing thanks to ‘the PRC’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses.’ President Joe Biden, she explained, didn’t want to do Beijing the favor of ‘contributing to the fanfare of the Games.’ But, she gamely noted, he’ll still be watching on TV!…

“At the least, Washington could put the International Olympic Committee on notice: Stop prostituting the games to tyrants, especially genocidal ones. Never again give (sell!) the honor of hosting the Olympics to a government that not only disgustingly violates the rights and freedoms of its own citizens, but threatens to do the same to anyone who dares cross it. Next time, expect a full-on American boycott.”
Editorial Board, New York Post

“A number of U.S. companies that claim to care about human rights are slated to be official partners with the International Olympic Committee for the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing. The corporations boycotted Georgia over its election laws, backed Black Lives Matter, and often speak out in favor of ‘oppressed’ groups, such as through pro-LGBT statements, but will not penalize communist China for its human rights abuses

“Coca-Cola, the ‘longest-standing partner of the Olympic Movement’ and the world’s most polluting brand in 2019, often brags that it is an environmentally conscious company with a social justice streak. It even has a human rights division that regularly releases statements supporting social movements, often leftist-led, in the United States. When it comes to condemning China for committing genocide against the Uyghurs, a minority religious group in the Xinjiang province, Coca-Cola is silent…

“Olympic partners such as Visa, Toyota, Samsung, Intel, Alibaba, and others often make similar claims that they want to prioritize social equity, racial justice, and environmental sustainability. Yet they are silent when dealing with the International Olympic Committee and are thus complicit in China’s human rights violations.”
Jordan Boyd, The Federalist

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