White House Undecided on Beijing Winter Olympics Participation, Beijing Slams “Boycott As Wrong”

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Several human rights groups around the world and U.S. Republican lawmakers are actively calling on the United States to boycott the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in protest of the Chinese Communist Party’s initial cover-up of the coronavirus epidemic and its human rights abuses against the Uighurs in Xinjiang.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday (Feb. 25) that the Biden administration has not made a final decision on whether to participate in the Beijing Olympics. This statement is a shift from the White House’s statement earlier this month. A few weeks ago, Psaki said the Biden administration had not discussed the call to boycott the Beijing Olympics.

In response, CCP Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin condemned “the politicization of sports” at a press conference on Friday.

“Politicizing sports is against the spirit of the Olympic Charter and harms the interests of athletes from all countries, and all sectors of the international community, including the U.S. Olympic Committee, oppose the wrong approach of boycotting the Games or demanding a change in the venue of the Games,” Wang said.

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, published an opinion piece Friday (Feb. 26) titled “Olympic Snow Shouldn’t Cover China’s Repression”. “Chinese citizens are currently being subjected to the most brutal repression since the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre pro-democracy movement,” Ross wrote, “and the Olympics are an event. But Beijing’s aim is to use the event as propaganda and to cover up the repression.”

“We want to prevent this in the Olympic spirit of excellence, friendship and respect.” In the article, he called on governments to engage in a diplomatic boycott, meaning they could allow athletes to compete but not send high-level diplomatic officials to celebrations such as the Olympic opening ceremony.

Human rights groups have also begun pressuring Olympic sponsors to withdraw their sponsorship of the Beijing Olympics.

In late January, groups from 10 countries joined the End the Uighur Genocide Movement, focusing first on Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb.

They want Airbnb to withdraw its sponsorship of the Beijing 2022 Olympics and are calling on Chesky to speak with activists via video. To put pressure on Airbnb, activists created images comparing rooms on Airbnb’s website to the rooms of imprisoned Uighurs.

Outsiders believe that because of its strong emphasis on corporate social responsibility, Airbnb has become a prime target for activists.

Currently, most of the IOC’s global sponsors have not taken a position on the call for a boycott. But some observers believe this is because the sponsors have not yet felt the political pressure.

Analysts believe that before the event takes place next February, global condemnation of Beijing for setting up concentration camps in Xinjiang, imprisoning Uighurs and other minorities, or suppressing human rights and democracy in Hong Kong will grow, and many athletes should be brave enough to take a stand, which will make for an embarrassing spectacle for the Chinese Communist Party, while sponsors will also feel the impact of the boycott on their company’s reputation.

Source: VOA

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