The International Olympic Association (IOC) says it will not change its mind about holding the next Winter Olympics in Beijing. It has never challenged the Chinese government’s human rights record. What options are there for international leaders and athletes?
The IOC has banned athletes from making political protests at the Tokyo Games. Athletes protesting in Beijing would be in even greater danger. Brutal treatment of protesters is common in China so any protest, even criticising the Chinese government privately, could have terrible consequences for athletes.
A diplomatic boycott is where no one from a government or athletic body goes to the Olympics and they say why in public. Leaders from around the world have made speeches about Chinese human rights but have not objected to the Beijing Olympics. They should not be going to China to clap and cheer during a human rights crisis.
The best option is the first worldwide boycott of an Olympics, where no country sends a team to Beijing 2022. Obviously, this would be very upsetting for everyone who loves to watch the Olympics, and all the amazing athletes who want to compete. It is not their fault that the IOC is insisting that the Winter Games go ahead in Beijing, making them choose between their morals and their sporting ambitions. However, a boycott is a strong message to China that the world will not tolerate their murderous policies.
China had already been occupying Tibet for almost 50 years by 2008, the last time China was an Olympic host. Most people ignored Tibetan protests and congratulated China for holding a great Games. But soon, the crackdown and the rise of Chen Quanguo began, leading to the genocide of the Uyghur people. Doing nothing again will embolden the Chinese government again, so it is not an option.
What have MPs said so far?
Several MPs from across the aisle have called for full or diplomatic boycotts. On Wednesday 24 February, Sir Ed Davey called for a full Olympic boycott in Parliament.
In the United States, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi is the most senior politician yet to have called for governments to boycott.
It is time to back these words up with action. Tell the British Olympic Association to boycott Beijing 2022.