Beijing’s 2022 Winter Olympic Games should be boycotted – all the gold medals in the world are not worth supporting human rights violations, writes Eric Abetz.
Beijing’s 2022 Winter Olympic Games should be boycotted – all the gold medals in the world are not worth supporting human rights violations, writes Eric Abetz.

'Stand for human rights and boycott Beijing Olympics'

OPINION

THE Chinese Communist dictatorship should not be allowed to host the Winter Olympics. It is one of the largest and most prestigious sporting events, bringing nations from all around the world together to compete and showcase the very best of human athleticism.

Hosting an Olympics is a prestigious honour for any country. Countries fiercely compete for the honour, for the prestige, tourism potential and international status. History reminds us how the evil national socialist regime of Hitler milked the Olympics in 1936 to provide legitimacy to his illegitimate dictatorship. We don't want history repeating itself.  

The 2022 Winter Games will be the last Olympics exempt from human rights principles being incorporated in the host city contract by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which will bind hosts to UN conventions from Paris 2024 onwards. Awarding the last to the Chinese Communist dictatorship was a disappointing choice before the new contract conditions set in. It is now unsustainable.

 China's human rights record is not merely a poor one but a litany of deliberate, state-orchestrated systematic abuse toward anyone deemed acting against the state's interests. Christians, Uighurs, Falun Gong and the Dalai Lama, or any dissident for that matter, are persecuted with the full force of the Chinese Communist dictatorship.

 

 China has brutally directed its arm against its own people in Hong Kong by the passing of the so-called National Security Act, which was a direct breach of the UN-sanctioned Sino-British Joint Declaration. This fundamental breach of the Declaration calls into question the regime's commitment to stand by any agreement it has signed and further erodes the trust the world can have in the Chinese Communist dictatorship.

Forced human organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience, foreign interference and arbitrary economic sanctions placed on imports, aggressive military action in the South China Sea and the Belt and Road debt-trap initiatives have put in stark relief the brutality of the regime.

Recently, 160 human rights advocacy groups delivered a joint letter to the chief of the International Olympic Committee calling for Beijing to be removed as host of the Games over its actions in Hong Kong and detention of Uighurs in Xinjiang.

 British MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith, a co-chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (of which this author is a member) has rightfully asked that "the IOC thinks again about hosting in China." He makes the point, "At the moment the Chinese believe these consequences are no more than just condemnation."

The Mascot of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, Bing Dwen Dwen, is seen unveiled during a launching ceremony at Shougang Ice Hockey Arena on September 17, 2019 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Xinyu Cui/Getty Images)
The Mascot of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, Bing Dwen Dwen, is seen unveiled during a launching ceremony at Shougang Ice Hockey Arena on September 17, 2019 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Xinyu Cui/Getty Images)

 In 2008, it was hoped that the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing would bring continued improvements in human rights for Chinese citizens. This idea while laudable at the time is now sorely misplaced, as is any idea that the Winter Games might bring improved human rights for Chinese citizens if the country hosts in 2022. The 2008 games nevertheless witnessed up to 50 human rights activists being arrested, placed under house arrest or being banished from Beijing, as well as strict control over all aspects of the Games that might paint China in a bad light, from increased pollution, strict media reporting, heavy-handed security or the 40 million migrant workers employed in dangerous construction jobs.          

 The hosting rights give credibility to a regime that sorely seeks to recover its lost face against a rising tide of scepticism and wariness to China's belligerent and aggressive engagement with the world. Such calls to boycott the Olympics are not without precedent. In 1980, the Moscow Summer Olympic Games were boycotted by 66 countries. Should the IOC inexplicably continue with the Winter Games in China in 2022, freedom-loving countries and athletes should take it upon themselves to boycott it and not inadvertently lend their athletic credibility to, and thereby give, respectability to a tyrannical regime that desperately craves it.

While unbelievably tough on athletes who have trained and followed exceptionally disciplined routines, the chance to not compete and display their prowess against the world's best should be seriously considered. Whatever alternatives exist should be urgently pursued by the IOC.

All the gold medals in the world are not worth giving legitimacy to the Chinese Communist dictatorship.

Tasmanian Liberal senator Eric Abetz is a member of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China and chair of the Senate's Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade.

Originally published as Stand for human rights, boycott Beijing Olympics



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