Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has asked for a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China. She made the declaration at a May 18 bipartisan congressional hearing about holding the Olympics in China in light of the country’s “egregious human rights record.”
At the hearing, Pelosi stated that America “cannot continue to give Beijing a blank check” in hopes that their behavior will change. In fact, this is not the first time Congress has held a debate about the Olympics in China. Back in 1993, the U.S. passed legislation urging the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to reject China’s 2000 bid for the Summer Olympics due to Beijing’s ongoing human rights violations.
The 2000 Olympics was eventually held in Sydney, Australia. However, a similar attempt to block China from hosting the 2008 Olympics failed. Pelosi proposed a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Olympics, in which heads of state would be barred from the event, but athletes could still participate.
“For heads of state to go to China in wake of a genocide that is ongoing while you’re sitting there in your seats really begs the question: What moral authority do you have to speak again about human rights any place in the world if you’re willing to pay your respects to the Chinese government as they commit genocide… Silence on this issue is unacceptable. It enables China’s abuses,” she said at the hearing.
The hearing was also attended by Reggie Littlejohn, president of the Women’s Rights Without Frontiers organization, which advocates for the rights of unborn children in China. She pointed out that South Africa was banned from the Olympics between 1964 and 1988 due to its apartheid, or system of institutionalised racial segregation.
Littlejohn wanted the IOC to express “disapproval of the CCP’s genocide” and other crimes against humanity by banning the nation from hosting the Olympics. “Honoring arguably the greatest human rights abuser in the world with the privilege of hosting the Olympics runs directly counter to the Olympic Charter,” she said in a statement.
International call for action
A coalition of Tibetans, Uyghurs, Hongkongers, and others have issued a statement calling for “all governments and people” to boycott Beijing 2022 Olympics, stating that taking part in the games would be “tantamount to endorsing China’s genocide.”
In an interview with AP, Lhadon Tethong of the Tibet Action Institute said that the “time for talking with the IOC is over,” and that this cannot be “games as usual or business as usual.”
“People have worked to engage with the IOC in good faith to have them understand the issues directly from the mouths of those most impacted—the Uyghurs at the top of that list and the Tibetans and others… It’s clear the IOC is completely uninterested in what the real impacts on the ground for people are,” he said to the media outlet.
In August 2018, a report released by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination stated that “tens of thousands to upwards of a million” Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities were being held in detention by the Chinese regime “without being charged or tried, under the pretext of countering terrorism and religious extremism.”
Furthermore, there were “Reports of mass surveillance disproportionately targeting ethnic Uighurs, including through frequent baseless police stops and the scanning of mobile phones at police checkpoint stations. Additional reports of mandatory collection of extensive biometric data in XUAR [Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region], including DNA samples and iris scans, of large groups of Uighur residents.”
In March 2020, China Tribunal released a report stating that the practice of “forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience” continues to this day in China, in large part targeting Falun Gong prisoners. There was also substantial evidence of medical testing on Falun Gong practitioners and Uyghurs.
Jonathan Walker contributed to this report.