On Dec. 2, the United Nations (UN) ratified an Olympic Truce ahead of the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, to promote peace and solidarity in the field of sports. However, 20 nations have chosen not to sign the truce citing the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) record on human rights abuses.
The organization laid out the resolution with the goal of “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal”, and acknowledging “the importance of cooperation among Member States to collectively implement the values of the Olympic Truce around the world,” while also emphasizing “the important role of the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee and the United Nations in this regard.”
The Olympic Truce, or “Ekecheiria”, originated as an ancient Greek tradition in the ninth century BC to safely run the Olympic Games for athletes and spectators from the three warring Greek city-states of Sparta, Elis and Pisa.
The tradition was revived in 1993 by the UN, with the General Assembly expressing its support for the truce before each Summer and Winter Olympics ever since.
The UN General Assembly called on all nations on Wednesday, Dec. 1, to witness a truce during the Beijing Winter Olympics planned to begin in February 2022, urging “a halt to conflicts during one of the world’s premiere sporting events” to spread the message of “peace, dialogue and reconciliation.”
Due to restrictions imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, International Olympics Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach could not attend the adoption of the truce in person in New York. Instead his speech was delivered by Luis Alberto Moreno, who has served as the observer of the IOC to the UN since 2019.
In the speech, the member nations of the UN were to support the Olympic Games’ mission to “unite the best winter sports athletes of the entire world,” and hold the event peacefully and respectfully without discrimination.
“We can only accomplish this mission if the Olympic Games stand above and beyond all political, cultural and other differences,” the speech read, “This is only possible if the Olympic Games are politically neutral and do not become a tool to achieve political goals.”
Andrew Parsons, president of the International Paralympics Committee (IPC) said that the Beijing Paralympic Winter Games will “continue to transforma attitudes and lead to greater social inclusion” for the world.
The resolution was co-sponsored by 173 of the 193 member states of the UN, and came shortly after the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) ceased tournaments in China in support of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, who recently levied sexual assault allegations against a former Chinese official.
Ever since the announcement was made that the 2022 Winter Olympics would be held in Beijing, the IOC has been criticized for the decision.
Beijing has a history of committing human rights abuses, including its treatment of the populations of Hong Kong and Tibet. In Xinjiang, Uyghur Muslims and other minorities are said to be herded into “re-education” camps throughout the province, which has become a major point of controversy against the communist government.
The case involving Peng Shuai has since added more backlash towards the IOC and Beijing.
In response to the Olympic Games being held in Beijing, 20 nations have chosen not to sign the truce with China as pressure mounts for a diplomatic boycott of the event. The refusal to sign the truce comes as a message to the communist government over its abuses.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, several of the countries that refused to sign the truce include the U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia, India and Japan.
None of the members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) – the U.S., India, Australia and Japan – sponsored the resolution. However, New Zealand – the only member of the Five Eyes intelligence network alongside Australia, Canada, the UK and the U.S., did sign the truce.
Turkey also did not sign the truce in protest of the CCP’s harsh treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.
If multiple government sources from the U.S. and Australia are to be believed, the Biden administration is expected to announce a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics this week, which means that the government would not send any representatives to the event, but would allow its athletes to participate.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is also considering a similar move, saying that his government is “working through those issues.”
“The case of Peng Shuai raises serious concerns about athlete safety,” Penny Wong, the Labor Party’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, said on Friday. “In light of this and ongoing concerns about the human rights situation in China, Labor is willing to work with the government to agree a bipartisan, national position on the level of Australia’s diplomatic representation at the Winter Olympics.”
Liberal senator Eric Abetz said that the Labor Party’s offer to work with the government was an opportunity for Australia to become the first Western country to boycott the Games, citing the CCP’s ongoing tyranny and atrocities committed against many groups of people in China.
U.S. media outlets, including CNN, reported on Monday that the White House will announce this week that there will be no U.S. officials attending the Games.
“We cannot proceed as if nothing is wrong about the Olympics going to China,” Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a hearing on human rights in May, adding that, “Silence is inexcusable. It enables China’s abuses.”
Pelosi also questioned the idea of sending officials to Beijing amidst the ongoing human rights abuses in China.
“What moral authority do you have to speak about human rights any place in the world if you’re willing to pay your respects to the Chinese government as they commit genocide?” she added.
Chairman and co-chair of the U.S. Congress and Administration China Committee, Jeff Merkley and James McGovern, announced the launch of the “Olympic Prisoners” project, criticizing the CCP for “tarnishing the Olympics.”
Leaders of Europe are reluctant to commit to the boycott as rights groups continue to exert pressure on their respective governments.