The Diplomatic Boycott of the Winter Olympics Is Not Enough

President Biden’s decision to keep his administration out of the Beijing Winter Olympics is not enough.

Two months into the Games and once again given the host country’s ugly record on human rights, more needs to be done to send a message to China that it is operating outside the boundaries of acceptable behavior.

Yeah Diplomatic boycott announced this week This move by the Biden administration was a smart move, a public reprimand for China’s growing list of human rights atrocities and an assurance that it would not tacitly endorse these Games with the participation of US ambassadors.

Human rights organizations joined the American government and lawmakers of various nationalities to define and condemn China’s treatment of ethnic Muslim minorities as genocide. Crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Pressure to keep China in office has increased in the weeks since Peng ShuaiThe Chinese tennis star disappeared in November. accused a senior Communist Party leader of sexual assault.

Imagine the bellow signal sent if Biden attended the ceremony. Beijing Games, As President George W. Bush did When China hosted the Summer Olympics in 2008, it’s a move that gave legitimacy to a nation that had brutally oppressed Tibet.

Given the International Olympic Committee’s track record in awarding the Games, the odds of taking a stand against the host country’s repressive government fall very often on athletes. Take your place in the games and be interrogated for not staying at home or become complicit without saying anything.

“Staying quiet is being complicit,” said American biathlete Clare Egan, speaking on the phone this week from Austria, where she is preparing to compete in the Second Winter Games.

Egan was the rare Olympian who went to Beijing to want to talk to me about China. A few athletes either refused my questions or said they would only talk about China off the record for fear of retaliation. One such contender voiced concerns about safety at the Games, emphasizing the need to be cautious of the host country’s recent track record in cracking down on critics.

It’s an unfair position for the Olympic workforce, who have spent years working in obscure sports, many of whom barely pay the bills. US and Soviet athletes traded their boycotts by state order of the 1980 Moscow and 1984 Los Angeles Games. CEO of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee in 2020 America apologized to rivals for the stupidity of this decision.

“It is clear that the decision not to send a team to Moscow had no effect on the global politics of the time and instead only hurt you, the American athletes who dedicate themselves to excellence and the chance to represent the United States. Written by Sarah Hirshland.

Egan noted the complex role of big business in the Olympics. Athletes and teams receive substantial funding from companies. It also helps companies pay for Games and use them for marketing and has a significant impact.

“If I were the CEO of a company that spends a lot of money on sponsoring any event or organization, I would definitely want to make sure that event or organization would reflect well on me,” Egan said. , chairman of the International Biathlon Union Athletes Committee.

Unfortunately, this is not happening in Beijing 2022, which some call the Genocide Games.

Rather than using their significant influence to speak boldly for human rights in China – or even more powerfully, to speak boldly and raise the stakes outright – the corporate sponsors who take charge of the Games and use the Olympics as a marketing tool are putting profits on morality.

Yes, that means you, Visa. And you, Procter & Gamble. And you, Coca-Cola, Airbnb, and a few others who are among the Games’ biggest sponsors.

Big businesses mostly seem to be lying low. Often, when the Olympics were this close, we would be flooded with advertisements describing each company’s role in supporting the upcoming Games. Not this time.

Corporations know what we all know: The Beijing Games can hardly live up to the Olympics’ stated ideals of being an example of humanity’s best.

Note that the Beijing Winter Games were awarded to China in 2015, the year after the 2014 Winter Olympics. This event, of course, took place in Russia, another authoritarian nation that disregarded human rights and carried out one of the most convoluted and far-reaching doping schemes in sports history at the Games it hosted.

Remember also the 2008 Beijing Summer Games, which gave China a glimmer of international legitimacy while violently suppressing opposition in Tibet.

Do we need to go back to the 1936 Games hosted by Hitler’s Berlin to show that the Olympics have no reservations about giving one of the greatest platforms in sport to vile dictators?

Calls for a diplomatic or sportsman boycott were met by those who said the IOC should move the Beijing Games elsewhere, even at short notice.

In place of these protests, the next steps must come from the organizations that have the most say: the sponsors of the Games.

This summer, executives representing several companies based in the United States and supporting the Games appeared before the Congress-Executive Committee of China and were asked for their views on Beijing 2022.

These companies have publicly championed justice after the murder of George Floyd and months of self-study on race in America. But with rare exceptions, their bold stand for justice faded with the wind when they were pressed by legislators on a matter far from American shores in a country with an abundance of enticing customers.

When asked whether the upcoming Games should be postponed or postponed, a consensus emerged between them: Protect your mother and wash your hands from true responsibility.

“We don’t make decisions about these host places,” said Paul Lalli, Coca-Cola’s global vice president for human rights, as if the world’s powerful multinationals had no influence. “We support and follow the athletes wherever they compete.”

Maybe companies should take a cue from something Egan told me about the Olympic movement’s stance on political neutrality. “When you see something wrong, you shouldn’t just sit there and do nothing.”

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