February 5th, 2021
US Not to Boycott 2022 Olympics in China
The new US administration of President Joe Biden has made it clear it does not intend to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in China despite calls by various American and international groups to do so over human rights abuses in Tibet and against the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.
"We're not currently talking about changing our posture or our plans as it relates to the Beijing Olympics," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Wednesday.
"We consult closely with allies and partners at all levels... but there is no discussion underway of a change in our plans from the United States at this point in time," she said.
"We oppose Games boycotts because they have been shown to negatively impact athletes while not effectively addressing global issues," the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said earlier in a statement.China actually participated in one of the earliest Olympic boycotts as it protested the inclusion of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in 1956. That same year, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Spain boycotted the Olympics to protest the USSR's occupation of Hungary following the Hungarian Revolution. Meanwhile, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, and Cambodia protested over the Suez Crisis. The question of whether or not Olympic boycotts make an impact strategically is a fair one. In theory, a widespread boycott should hinder the hosting country’s ability to profit and host a proper competition. In practice, we saw allies in the 10980 boycott allow their Olympic committees and or individual athletes to decide whether or not to participate.We saw that while 65 nations “participated” in the boycott (if only half-heartedly), 80 countries fully participated in the Olympics. On the world stage, the 1980 boycott--arguably the most successful Olympic boycott--was merely sentimental and not strategic. Athletes from this particular game are still upset that they missed their chance to represent the US. Most Olympic athletes, if unable to compete, are unable to four years later.
The Biden administration’s position comes against the backdrop of one of the Trump administration’s last decisions, which designated the government of China as committing genocide against the ethnic Uighurs.Even Biden's new Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, stated that he believes what's going on in Xinjiang to the ethnic Uighur minority amounts to genocide -- something one Chinese official has brushed off as the "lie of the century." Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups have been subjected to slave labor, torture, and sterilization, among other abuses. It is good that both Republicans and Democrats agree that there is a genocide happening to The Uyghurs. The bipartisan Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 had suggestions other than boycotting the Olympics, such as property and visa-blocking sanctions on individuals responsible for the suffering. We need firstly to uphold this document in a way that puts the Uyghurs first and our political party platforms second.We need to agree on other solutions as well. If there were a way to get the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to change the location of the 2022 Olympics, I would fully support it. Boycotts, however, are historically ineffective. If there is a global effort to put pressure on the IOC, we may be able to persuade them to change locations. The IOC are currently ignoring the Uyghur issue.
Human rights groups and certain Western political figures have urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to strip China of the sports event which exactly one year away.
On Tuesday, Republican Senators initiated a resolution calling to move the Games from Beijing because of its crackdowns against the Uighurs in Xinjiang, a region in Northwest China historically known as East Turkestan.US Senator from Florida Rick Scott led the charge with support from Mike Braun, Marco Rubio, Todd Young, Tom Cotton, Jim Inhofe, and Marsha Blackburn. Scott also called out China's oppression of the people of Hong Kong and aggression toward Taiwan. The resolution also noted that "China subjects Christians and members of other religious groups to forced labor" in various detention centers.
Meanwhile, in Tokyo a group of anti-China activists campaigning for human rights in Tibet and Xinjiang also called for a global boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
"If China doesn't stop human rights violations in Tibet and the neighboring regions, then China should not be allowed to host the 2022 Winter Olympics," said Kalden Obara, president of a group called the Tibetan Community in Japan.
According to a UN, at least 1 million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims have been held in internment camps in China.The UN has heard reports on organ harvesting, and Jewher Ilham, the daughter of the imprisoned scholar Ilham Tohti, described the "fast track security" lanes for organs taken from prisoners. She has testified before Congress on the condition of the Uighurs in China.Beijing has vehemently denied any accusations of human rights abuses.The Australian Strategic Policy Institute discovered as many as 83 common name brands linked to Uighur labor either directly or indirectly, including Nike and Adidas, at least as recently as 2019. According to the New York Times, companies like Nike, Coca-Cola, and Apple lobbied to reduce the language of the Uighur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which easily passed the US House -- a charge they deny.Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently said "I think we're very much in agreement. Forcing men, women, and children into concentration camps, trying to in effect re-educate them to be in adherence to the ideology of the Chinese Communist Party — all of that speaks to an effort to commit genocide." It is unclear how the Biden administration intends to act on this, though they have mentioned sanctions and tariffs.