Push To Boycott 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games
alls for a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games have strengthened due to ongoing human rights concerns from Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong and Inner Mongolia and political tensions between China, Australia, the US, Canada, and the UK in particular.
Last month, more than 160 human rights groups sent a letter to the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, calling for the Winter Olympics to be relocated from China.
The main concern is participants in the event from other nations could become “unwilling participants” in Chinese Communist Party propaganda, similar to the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin where Adolf Hitler used the event to showcase Nazi propaganda.
Australian Liberal Senator, Eric Abetz, was at the frontline of the initial push for Australia and Australian athletes to boycott the major event, saying Australia should lead an international boycott.
“The time has come for the freedom-loving countries to say to Beijing ‘enough is enough’,” Senator Abetz said.
“I would in fact invite individual athletes as well to consider whether they want to lend their name and their credibility to such a discredited regime,” he said.
Independent Senator for South Australia, Rex Patrick, has also recommended changing the Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Bill 2020 to include the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) under its reign.
“Athletes at least need to become aware of exactly what is going on in China,” Senator Patrick said.
“Certainly, they would need to consider their own perspective on what is happening, but they also need to consider their own safety.
“The Australian Government at the moment has a travel warning suggesting that no one travels to China, they are at risk of arbitrary detention,” he said.
Following the calls for a boycott, AOC president, and IOC vice-president, John Coates, delivered a 24-page document outlining why the AOC does not support the calls to boycott the 2022 Games.
“The AOC does not support a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games,” Coates’ letter said.
“The AOC also opposes any amendment that would subject its activities to the arrangements contemplated by the Bill, as this could have serious consequences for Australia’s participation in the Olympic Movement.
“Any proposal to bring the AOC within the ambit of the Bill would fetter its autonomy under the Olympic Charter and, in the eyes of the International Olympic Committee, could jeopardise its recognition as a National Olympic Committee.
“The potential consequences for the AOC, Australian athletes, and others could be significant and detrimental and include — athletes not being able to compete at upcoming Games under the Australian flag, including the Tokyo 2020 Games and Beijing Winter Games in 2022 and destroying Brisbane’s bid to host the Olympic Games in 2032,” he said.
In response, Senator Patrick said Coates’s claims Australian athletes would be disallowed to compete in future Olympic Games “lack credibility”.
“Notwithstanding his position as an IOC vice-president, Mr Coates can’t predict what the IOC response to a boycott will be,” Senator Patrick said.
“In particular, no-one would seriously suggest that the Chinese Olympic Committee is independent of government influence when its membership is comprised entirely of Chinese Government officials and Chinese Communist Party members.
“Like all institutions in China, the Chinese Olympic Committee is totally controlled by the Communist regime which is directly responsible for gross human rights violations (including I might add political hostage taking and arbitrary detention of Australian citizens).
“If the IOC were serious about enforcing the provisions of the Olympic Charter, China would not be a member,” he said.
With growing talks internationally for the boycott, UK foreign minister, Dominic Raab, said earlier this month the UK “would not rule out a boycott”, claiming there is a point in time where it is “no longer possible” to “separate sport from diplomacy and politics.”
In hosting the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, Beijing would become the first city in the world to host both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, after hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics.