Last fall, the International Olympic Committee hosted a video call with activists demanding the removal of Beijing as the host of the 2022 Winter Olympics. During the call, campaigners said the Beijing Games would give the Chinese government legitimacy for human rights abuses.
“You, ladies and gentlemen, you have your own responsibilities,” replied Juan Antonio Samranch, chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission for the upcoming Winter Games, according to a contemporary note by BuzzFeed News.
The leaders pointed to the mass captivity of Muslims in Xinjiang, the crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong, and the ongoing repression in Tibet. IOC officials, however, withdrew from their question, claiming that the 2008 Beijing Olympics had further improved air quality and public transport, according to the note and in interviews with several leaders involved.
Dozens of human rights groups have called it the “genocidal Olympics.” Requested The IOC takes some of the games to other countries Comparison Upcoming competition in 19336 in Nazi Germany Us And Canada Xinjiang has publicly declared China’s treatment of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities as genocide.
In response to a detailed list of questions for this article, the IOC said it had substantiated the views of NGOs on human rights issues at the Beijing Games. The committee said it had raised the issues with the government and local authorities, assuring them they would respect the Olympic charter.
“The IOC must remain neutral on all global political issues in terms of its diverse participation in the Olympic Games,” the IOC said in an email. “Granting the Olympic Games to a National Olympic Committee does not mean that the IOC agrees with its country’s political structure, social situation or human rights standards.”
The IOC upholds the human rights principles enshrined in the Olympic Charter and states, “This responsibility is taken very seriously.”
“At the same time, the IOC has no mandate or power to change the law or the political system of any sovereign country,” it said. It must play a legitimate role for the government and the concerned intergovernmental agencies. “
IOC has come again and again Emphasis Its neutrality in response to questions about the policy of holding games in China. But in a private video call on October 6, 2020, IOC officials went even further.
The call lasted more than an hour and was attended by six leaders and five IOC officials. The call started with optimism but ended in exhaustion, said some leaders and activists present at the call.
Officials argued that the Olympics could be a catalyst for improved infrastructure. They point to the 2008 Summer Olympics, arguing that when Beijing hosted it that year, it improved infrastructure and air quality.
“They still have air quality problems, but for the first time they mentioned that the blue sky is called ‘Olympic Blue’ because … for the first time in Beijing they saw blue air,” an official said in a note.
Teng Biao, one of China’s best human rights lawyers, was also present. He told BuzzFeed News he was not impressed.
“It’s very difficult to protect the Chinese government in terms of human rights or the rule of law,” Teng told BuzzFeed News, “so they’ll find something national in terms of environmental policy.”
“The re-hosting of the Olympics in Beijing can be seen as support for the CCP’s atrocities, including the Uighur genocide,” he said.
During the 2008 Olympics, Teng was in Beijing and said that Like other human rights lawyers, He was banned from traveling, detained and tortured while in police custody before the Games. He said he had told officials that his experience showed that there could be damage if the Olympics were held again in Beijing. Police could not be reached for comment. But IOC officials seemed indifferent, Teng said.
Samarch, chairman of the IOC’s Coordinating Commission, said during the call that the games were “an extraordinary force for good deeds”, “bringing together people of different races and religions” and even the political system, women and gentlemen and even the political system, “BuzzFeed News notes.
“The world lives under many political systems,” he added. “We can’t go and talk and support each other.”
Jumreta Arkin, program and advocacy manager at the World Uyghur Congress, called IOC officials to say his relatives were missing in Xinjiang.. He said officials regretted hearing him, but the world is a complex place notes notes and a memory remembered by other leaders present at that meeting.
Arkin told BuzzFeed News that he strongly disagrees with IOC officials. “Everything has gotten worse since 2008,” he said. “We have a complete genocide, we have people in concentration camps and you tell us the situation hasn’t gotten worse?”
“We are suffering by these policies,” he added. “You never think of hosting games in North Korea or anywhere else. Why is China different? ”
Darji Tasten, executive director of Free Tibet Students, said he told officials he and others had risked revenge on themselves and their families for publicly protesting the IOC’s decision. He further mentioned that many Buddhist monks and other ethnic Tibetans have been detained or Killed During the decades-long campaign of the government. Violent protests It started in Tibet President of the IOC before and during the 2006 Games The protest said There was a “crisis” for the organization. But video call officials don’t seem to care, Tesen said.
“I was shocked,” he said. “How can I explain the cold faces? They didn’t even acknowledge the misery.”
Arkin, Teng, and Tesen said talks with the IOC have continued since October, including the second call this month, but Arkin said nothing significant has changed. Politicians in the United States And EuropeIncluding Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nicki Haley, Has called on governments to boycott the game in recent months. Critics say the athlete could be unjustly punished. But leaders say they see a diplomatic boycott as their only option, as IOC games are less likely to be removed.
Human rights groups are also trying to pressure organizations like Airbnb To sever the sponsorship relationship With 2022 Games.
Testen and others who took part in the 2008 Games protests said that China’s crackdown on Hong Kong’s democracy and Xinjiang’s abuse meant it was less defensive than this time.
“We told them, in the end, it would be a game of genocide,” Testen said. “And in history, it will go down as part of the IOC.”