China slams Olympic boycott call, ‘politicization of sports’

The Special Committee on Canada-China Relations should stop making virtue signalling calls for the Olympics to be moved (won’t happen) and join the British parliamentary committee in calling for a boycott:

China on Thursday criticized what it called the “politicization of sports” after British lawmakers urged a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics unless China allows an investigation of complaints of human rights abuses in its northwest.

A boycott “will not succeed,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said.

The British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee called for the government to urge British companies to boycott the Beijing Games, scheduled for February. The appeal adds to pressure on China’s ruling Communist Party over reports of mass detentions and other abuses of mostly Muslim ethnic minorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

“China firmly opposes the politicization of sports and the interference in other countries’ internal affairs by using human rights issues as a pretext,” Wang said. “Attempts to disrupt, obstruct and sabotage the preparation and convening of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games out of political motivation have been met with strong opposition from all sectors of the international community.”

China, which rejects the accusations of abuses in Xinjiang, has denied the United Nations unfettered access to the region to investigate the claims.


Kheiriddin: Boycotting Beijing 2022 may not change China, but it will spoil its glory

Of note and agree:

As the countdown continues to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, human rights groups called this week for a full-blown boycott, given accusations of China committing genocide against its minority Uyghur Muslim population and its recent suppression of basic freedoms in Hong Kong.

According to a coalition that includes Uyghurs, Tibetans and Hong Kong residents, “The time for talking with the IOC (International Olympic Committee) is over.” The statement comes the same week that the U.S. Congress is holding hearings on the issue, and days after the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee said boycotts are ineffective and only hurt athletes.

Source: Boycotting Beijing 2022 may not change China, but it will spoil its glory

Full-blown boycott pushed for Beijing Olympics

Of note. Right call:

Groups alleging human-rights abuses against minorities in China are calling for a full-blown boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, a move likely to ratchet up pressure on the International Olympic Committee, athletes, sponsors and sports federations.

A coalition representing Uyghurs, Tibetans, residents of Hong Kong and others issued a statement Monday calling for the boycott, eschewing lesser measures that had been floated like “diplomatic boycotts” and further negotiations with the IOC or China.

“The time for talking with the IOC is over,” Lhadon Tethong of the Tibet Action Institute said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press. “This cannot be games as usual or business as usual; not for the IOC and not for the international community.”

The Beijing Games are set to open on Feb. 4, 2022, just six months after the postponed Summer Olympics in Tokyo are to end.

Rights groups have met several times in the last year with the IOC, asking that the games be removed from China. A key member in those talks was Zumretay Arkin of the World Uyghur Congress.

Tethong, herself, was detained and deported from China in 2007 — a year before the Beijing Summer Olympics — for leading a campaign for Tibet.

“The situation where we are now is demonstrably worse that it was then,” Tethong said, pointing out that the IOC said the 2008 Olympics would improve human rights in China. “If the games go ahead, then Beijing gets the international seal of approval for what they are doing.”

The push for a boycott comes a day before a joint hearing in the U.S. Congress focusing on the Beijing Olympics and China’s human-rights record, and just days after the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee said boycotts are ineffective and only hurt athletes.

“People have worked to engage with the IOC in good faith to have them understand the issues directly from the mouths of those most impacted — the Uyghurs at the top of that list and the Tibetans and others,” Tethong said. “It’s clear the IOC is completely uninterested in what the real impacts on the ground for people are.”

The IOC has repeatedly said it must be “neutral” and stay out of politics. The Switzerland-based body is essentially a sports business, deriving about 75% of its income from selling broadcast rights, and 18% more from sponsors. It also has observer status at the United Nations.

“We are not a super-world government,” IOC President Thomas Bach said recently.

China’s foreign ministry has criticized “the politicization of sports” and has said any boycott is “doomed to failure.” China has denied accusations of genocide against the Uyghur people.

A recent U.S. State Department report stated explicitly that “genocide and crimes against humanity” have taken place in the past year against Muslim Uyghurs and other minorities in the western region of Xinjiang.

Tethong said she knows some athletes may be opposed. But she said others, who gained traction from Black Lives Matter movement, may become allies. She acknowledged this as a “gloves-off” moment.

“There are obviously a lot of people who are concerned about the athletes and their lifelong work,” Tethong said. “But in the end it’s the IOC that has put them in this position and should be held accountable.”

American skier Mikaela Shiffrin, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, spelled out the dilemma for athletes in a recent interview on CNN.

“You certainly don’t want to be put in the position of having to choose between human rights like morality versus being able to do your job,” she said.

Tethong suggested coalition members might lobby the IOC’s top 15 sponsors, American network NBC, which generates about 40% of all IOC revenue, sports federations, civil society groups “and anyone that will listen.”

Activists have already singled out IOC sponsor Airbnb for attention.

“First is the moral question,” Tethong said. “Is it OK to host an international goodwill sporting event such as the Olympic Games while the host nation is committing genocide just beyond the stands?”

In meetings with the IOC, activists say they have asked to see documents in which China has given “assurances” about human rights conditions. Activists say the IOC has not produced the documents.

The IOC included human rights requirements several years ago in the host city contract for the 2024 Paris Olympics, but it did not include those guidelines — the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights — for Beijing. Paris is the first Olympics to contain the standards, long pushed for by human rights groups.

Last week, human rights groups and Western nations led by the United States, Britain and Germany accused China of massive crimes against the Uyghur minority and demanded unimpeded access for U.N. experts.

At the meeting, Britain’s U.N. Ambassador, Barbara Woodward, called the situation in Xinjiang “one of the worst human rights crises of our time.”

“The evidence points to a program of repression of specific ethnic groups,” Woodward said. “Expressions of religion have been criminalized and Uyghur language and culture are discriminated against systematically and at scale.”

Source: Full-blown boycott pushed for Beijing Olympics

US weighs joint approach to Beijing Olympics with allies

Of note and needed. Hopefully, enough countries will have the sense to boycott and not provide a propaganda triumph for the Chinese regime:

The State Department said Tuesday the Biden administration is consulting with allies about a joint approach to China and its human rights record, including how to handle the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics.

The department initially suggested that an Olympic boycott to protest China’s rights abuses was among the possibilities but a senior official said later that a boycott has not yet been discussed.

The official said the U.S. position on the 2022 Games had not changed but that the administration is in frequent contact with allies and partners about their common concerns about China. Department spokesman Ned Price said earlier the consultations were being held in order to present a united front.

“Part of our review of those Olympics and our thinking will involve close consultations with partners and allies around the world,” Price told reporters.

Human rights groups are protesting China’s hosting of the Games, which are set to start in February 2022. They have urged a diplomatic or straight-up boycott of the event to call attention to alleged Chinese abuses against Uyghurs, Tibetans, and residents of Hong Kong.

Price declined to say when a decision pm the Olympics might be made, but noted there is still almost a year until the Games are set to begin.

“These Games remain some time away. I wouldn’t want to put a timeframe on it, but these discussions are underway,” he said. “It is something that we certainly wish to discuss and it is certainly something that we understand that a approach will be not only in our interest, but also in the interest of our allies and partners. So this is one of the issues that is on the agenda, both now and going forward.”

The Beijing Winter Olympics open on Feb. 4, 2022 and China has denied all charges of human rights abuses. It says “political motives” underlie the boycott effort.

Rights groups have met with the International Olympic Committee and have been told the Olympic body must stay politically “neutral.” They have been told by the IOC that China has given “assurances” about human rights conditions.

Both the IOC and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee have said in the past they oppose boycotts.

In March, IOC president Thomas Bach said history shows that boycotts never achieve anything. “It also has no logic,” he said. “Why would you punish the athletes from your own country if you have a dispute with a government from another country? This just makes no real sense.”

The USOPC has questioned the effectiveness of boycotts. “We oppose Games boycotts because they have been shown to negatively impact athletes while not effectively addressing global issues,” it said. “We believe the more effective course of action is for the governments of the world and China to engage directly on human rights and geopolitical issues.”

Source: US weighs joint approach to Beijing Olympics with allies

Neve: We need a human rights game plan for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

Good suggestions. Latest Angus-Reid poll shows 55 percent support boycott compares to 27 percent opposed:
As the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing draw nearer – less than eleven months to go – calls for a boycott grow.

Every day, grave human rights violations suffocate freedom in Hong Kong; brutalize Tibetan, Falun Gong, pro-democracy and other prisoners because of who they are or what they believe; and jeopardize the survival of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities. Worry for unjustly imprisoned Canadians, including Huseyin Celil, Sun Qian, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor – and four Canadians currently sentenced to death in China – is top of mind. Understandably, there is much debate about holding the Olympics in a country responsible for a human rights crisis of this magnitude.

Immediately there is pushback. We hear indignation that a boycott politicizes the Olympics. But concern for universal human rights is anything but political. These are international obligations binding on all nations, including China.

The Olympic Charter itself affirms that: “The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.” Surely championing universal human rights is true to the essence of that vision.

What is particularly galling is for governments and the Olympic movement to dismiss boycott calls as inappropriate, then go no further. That is an utter abdication of responsibility. Boycott or not, there must be a forceful human-rights game plan for these Olympics.

With the House of Common’s recognition of China’s genocide against the Uyghurs; with an iron grip of repression closing around Hong Kong; with Canadians unjustly locked up in Chinese prisons; and with the Chinese government determined to bask in a favourable international spotlight – if this is not the time to sharpen the world’s focus, build pressure, and set out clear expectations for human rights change in China, when will that time be?

Here is the beginning of a three-part game plan for Canada.

First, work with other governments to hold China accountable within the United Nations human rights system. The UN Human Rights Council is in session and will meet two more times before the flame is lit in Beijing. Governments need to find their resolve and use the world’s premier human rights body to call out one of the world’s most egregious human rights violators.

Second, take steps that are readily available. Canadian law and policy already provide for a range of meaningful measures such as more robust bans on products made through forced labour; targeted sanctions on Chinese government officials; concrete initiatives to protect activists in Canada facing threats for their Chinese human rights advocacy; and dedicated programs for refugees fleeing this repression. House of Commons committees on the Canada-China relationship, international human rights and immigration have explored and proposed those and other recommendations in recent months. It is time for action.

And third, all stakeholders need human rights-focused Olympics strategies. That includes the government, the Canadian Olympic Committee, media, corporate sponsors and individual athletes.

There needs to be a coherent response with other governments, including maintaining pressure with respect to key human rights concerns throughout the lead-up to and during the Olympics. Coordinated decisions as to which officials will attend and who will pointedly stay away from the lavish opening ceremony should be publicized.

Attention will be needed to ensure that journalists have freedom and are encouraged to report about China’s human rights reality. Similarly, marketing campaigns cannot gloss over China’s grim human rights record. Television networks with Olympic broadcast rights, and companies paying big bucks to use the logo, need to figure out how they will lift up human rights.

And there must be assurances of safety and support for individual athletes who will feel compelled by conscience to show solidarity.

If governments and the Olympic movement are going to rebuff boycott suggestions, it is incumbent upon them to demonstrate they are nonetheless committed to addressing the harrowing human rights backdrop behind the Beijing Games’ fanfare.

This is not playing politics. It is about respecting what the Olympics aspire to be.

Above all, it is about honouring the Uyghur people, the people of Hong Kong, Tibetans, Mongolians, Falun Gong practitioners, democracy campaigners, human rights defenders, journalists, labour activists, imprisoned Canadians, and countless others.

For them, the Olympic flame offers no inspiration or comfort.  For them, we must set the flame ablaze with concern, solidarity and action for human rights.

Alex Neve is a Senior Fellow with the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

Source: Neve: We need a human rights game plan for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

Latest Angus-Reid poll showing 55 percent favouring a boycott, 27 percent opposed.


Mendes: We say ‘never again,’ then it happens again in China and we do almost nothing

Good op-ed by Errol Mendes:

We are witnessing what we’d hoped would “never again” happen after the Second World War: There is compelling evidence that over a million Uyghurs are being detained in Xinjiang, China.

While the Chinese government claims the detention camps are in fact vocational or training camps, the detainees are subjected to propaganda sessions, forced labour, and physical abuse, including gang rapes, according to credible news reports.

There’s also evidence that the Chinese government is trying to reduce the numbers of this ethnic and religious group through enforced birth control.

I agree with former Justice minister Irwin Cotler that we should join the U.S. and other countries in imposing targeted sanctions against key planners of the mass detention of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

I have suggested in Canadian Parliament that sanctions should target the architects of the suppression and detention of the Uyghurs. Such sanctions could target governor Shohrat Zakir of Xinjiang, and the region’s party chief, Chen Quanguo, who’s a member of the politburo of the party in the highest ranks of the Chinese government. Both have asserted that these allegations, of what amount to serious international crimes against the Uyghurs, are fabricated lies and absurd. Zakir goes further by describing the camps as boarding schools where the rights of the “students” are protected.

In 2017, Parliament passed the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, which implements the Magnitsky targeted sanctions that allow Canada to freeze the assets and ban the travel of human-rights abusers and corrupt officials around the world. Similar laws have been adopted by the U.S., the U.K., and many European countries, and the European Union is considering adopting a law for the whole region. The law was championed by Bill Browder, the global human-rights and anti-corruption campaigner whose lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was murdered by Russian officials.

In an interview in the Globe and Mail, Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the UN, said the federal government must consider the consequences, including possible retaliation, before imposing sanctions on senior Chinese officials for violating the human rights of minority groups. I agree with him that a government can never afford to engage in non-consequential thinking or actions that could threaten our two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, or engage in further trade actions that could threaten our agricultural and lumber exports.

However, Canadian society can’t bend its foundational commitments to the rule of law to the laws practised by China and other dictatorships. We can’t ignore our oft-stated commitments to the promotion and protection of universal human rights embodied in the promise of “never again.” We can’t just stand by while, yet again, crimes against humanity are committed, including genocide, torture, and brutal violence and rape against women detainees.

When we stay silent or don’t act in the face of these atrocities, we forfeit our right to be regarded as champions of the equal dignity and rights of all peoples on the world stage. History has shown that silence is the complicit partner to genocide. Canada can’t stand by while genocidal acts and crimes against humanity take place in Myanmar, China, or elsewhere. By forcing birth control on the Uyghurs, the Chinese government is committing both crimes against humanity and genocide.

The officials who I suggest we target for their involvement in the detention, subjugation, and forced birth control in Xinjiang may not want to travel to Canada or have any assets here to be frozen, but the signal we send with the targeted sanctions to, not just China, but the entire world, is that we’re acting on behalf of humanity. They’re meant to bestow pariah status on those at the highest levels of the Chinese government.

Our traditional allies should be urged to follow suit, and even consider doing it jointly with us. As for China’s possible retaliation, “the two Michaels” are already paying the price with their detention and imminent trial. Their fate is sealed as long as Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou isn’t freed.

Canada must develop a longer-term strategy and policy for China that addresses both the country’s “hostage diplomacy” and the use of trade punishments that are substantially in violation of global trade rules under the World Trade Organization.

As China breaches international norms and laws, Canada and its government must develop a long-term strategy with our traditional democratic allies, especially the European Union and the new Biden administration in the U.S. The goal of such a coalition would be the economic, social, and multilateral deterrence of, not only the use of hostage diplomacy by China and other countries, but also China’s ability to target democratic countries that are bound by their values, principles, and constitutions to adhere to the rule of law and the promotion and protection of universal human rights.

U.S. President Joe Biden has already promised to hold a global democracy summit to renew the spirit and shared purpose of the nations of the free world. Yet again, the risk is high that authoritarian China will collude with similar powers to make the entire democratic world cower in fear of them.

Canada could urge such a summit, where measures can be agreed on to subject Chinese global companies to national-security, human-rights, and anti-corruption scrutiny, and to penalize them for complicity in their state’s serious international crimes.

We need government, private-sector, and civil-society partnerships to oppose hostage diplomacy and impunity for the most serious international crimes. Such coalitions could build on the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance, comprised of Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand, which functions well already. The commitment to the rule of law — and respect for the equal dignity and rights of all peoples, which underlies the alliance of truly democratic nations — is under attack from authoritarian leaders around the world. Canada can’t acquiesce or stand by in this assault on democracy around the world.

Source: We say ‘never again,’ then it happens again in China and we do almost nothing

Romney: The Right Way to Boycott the Beijing Olympics

Useful suggestion regarding alternative to athlete boycott by Senator Romney but one that requires buy-in by governments and corporate sponsors to have impact. Whether governments and corporate sponsors will have the courage and ethics to do so remains in question, including the Canadian government and sponsors:

As the Beijing Olympic Games approach, it is increasingly clear that China, under the control of the Chinese Communist Party does not deserve an Olympic showcase. Because it is too late to move the Winter Games scheduled for Beijing next February, some have proposed, understandably, that the United States boycott the Games.

China deserves our condemnation. The Chinese Communist Party has reneged on its agreement to allow Hong Kong self rule; it has brutally suppressed peaceful demonstrators and incarcerated respected journalists. It is exacting genocide against Uighurs and other ethnic minorities; Uighur women are forcefully sterilized or impregnated by Han Chinese men. Adults, ripped from their families, are sentenced into forced labor and concentration camps. Among ethnic Chinese, access to uncensored broadcast news and social media is prohibited. Citizens are surveyed, spied upon and penalized for attending religious services or expressing dissent.

Prohibiting our athletes from competing in China is the easy, but wrong, answer. Our athletes have trained their entire lives for this competition and have primed their abilities to peak in 2022. When I helped organize the Salt Lake City Games in 2002, I gained an understanding of the enormous sacrifice made by our Olympic hopefuls and their families. It would be unfair to ask a few hundred young American athletes to shoulder the burden of our disapproval.

It could also be counterproductive. The Olympic Games aren’t just a showcase for the host nation, but a platform for values both American and universal. If our athletes skip the Games, millions of young Americans at home might skip watching it. And the Olympic Games are one of the most enduring demonstrations of the great qualities of the human spirit on the world stage: We witness determination, sacrifice, patriotism, endurance, sportsmanship. We would also lose the global symbolism of our young American heroes standing atop the medals podium, hand to their hearts, as “The Star-Spangled Banner” plays on Chinese soil.

Moreover, if an athlete boycott is meant to influence the behavior of the home country or delegitimize its government, it probably won’t work. When President Jimmy Carter applied an athlete boycott to the Moscow Olympics in 1980, the result was more medals for Russians and dashed dreams for American athletes. No one seriously believes it improved Soviet behavior.

So if we shouldn’t forbid American athletes from competing, then how should we meaningfully repudiate China’s atrocities? The right answer is an economic and diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics. American spectators — other than families of our athletes and coaches — should stay at home, preventing us from contributing to the enormous revenues the Chinese Communist Party will raise from hotels, meals and tickets. American corporations that routinely send large groups of their customers and associates to the Games should send them to U.S. venues instead.

Rather than send the traditional delegation of diplomats and White House officials to Beijing, the president should invite Chinese dissidents, religious leaders and ethnic minorities to represent us.

An economic and diplomatic boycott should include collaboration with NBC, which has already done important work to reveal the reality of the Chinese Communist Party’s repression and brutality. NBC can refrain from showing any jingoistic elements of the opening and closing ceremonies and instead broadcast documented reports of China’s abuses.

We should enlist our friends around the world to join our economic boycott. Limiting spectators, selectively shaping our respective delegations and refraining from broadcasting Chinese propaganda would prevent China from reaping many of the rewards it expects from the Olympics.

Finally, America and the nations of the free world need to have a heart-to-heart with the International Olympic Committee. The I.O.C. has hoped that awarding Games to repressive regimes would tend to lessen their abuses. But hope has too often met a different reality — in Hitler’s Germany, Putin’s Russia and Xi’s China. In authoritarian states, the Olympics has more often been a tool of propaganda than a lever of reform.

Let us demonstrate our repudiation of China’s abuses in a way that will hurt the Chinese Communist Party rather than our American athletes: reduce China’s revenues, shut down their propaganda, and expose their abuses. An economic and diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics — while proceeding with the Games — is the right answer.


Veteran Canadian Olympic officials dismiss ‘silly’ calls to move 2022 Games from China

Not a “silly” call but an unrealistic one, and thus more virtue signalling than effective. Only realistic option is a boycott with as many countries involved as possible:

A number of Canadian politicians have called for the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, China, to be relocated to another country, but Dick Pound, a Canadian member of the International Olympic Committee, says such a move is unfeasible at this late date.

“What the politicians are doing with this kind of a request of moving the Games with less than a year to go is silly,” said Pound, a former president of the Canadian Olympic Committee. “If they give this 30 seconds of thought, they know it’s not possible.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and other politicians, including Green Party Leader Annamie Paul and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, have called for the relocation of the Games, pointing to the Chinese government’s treatment of its Muslim minority population.

Source: Veteran Canadian Olympic officials dismiss ‘silly’ calls to move 2022 Games from China

Glavin: Canada’s can’t just shrug off the debate over the Beijing Winter Olympics

Now that a rising global movement to move the 2022 Winter Games from Beijing is finally starting to pick up steam in Canada, there’s a debate worth having about it, and some difficult questions to be raised. Can the International Olympic Committee be made to reverse its preposterous 2015 host-city decision in favour of Xi Jinping’s ravenous, globe-encircling police state? Is it possible to settle on a more civilized venue in time? What should Canada do if the effort fails?

These are among the difficult questions that arise no matter what we might think about Canadian flags on an Olympic podium being put to use as rags to wipe away the several provisions of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide that the Xi regime is transgressing in the course of enslaving and obliterating the Uighur people of Xinjiang.

But before we get to any of those questions, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government will have to be shifted from the unequivocal standpoint it has adopted, which is that none of this is any of our business. The federal government has outsourced these decisions to the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees, and that’s all there is to say, Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau’s office has been helpfully straightforward in explaining.

And then there are all the questions that arise from the rationale that various Olympic committee officials have provided, which several Liberal MPs have echoed, as to why the Winter Games must proceed as planned and according to Beijing’s wishes. The first among these questions is this one: Just how stupid do these people think we are?

Dick Pound, the most senior of the International Olympic Committee’s 98 members and former president of the Canadian Olympic Committee, points to the 1980 boycott of the Moscow Olympics as “completely ineffective” because the Soviet Union was still occupying Afghanistan a decade later. “Boycotts don’t work,” COC chief executive officer David Shoemaker and Canadian Paralympics Committee CEO Karen O’Neill argued in an opinion essay published in the Globe and Mail last week.

Apart from the usual treacle about how the Olympics “help build connections and open doors” and provide a “unique means for the promotion of peace and development, for uniting rather than dividing,” Shoemaker and O’Neill claimed that their critics want an Olympic boycott to be “the first order of business to reshape our relationship with China.”

That’s just straight-up untrue. Human rights organizations, advocacy groups mobilizing on behalf of Tibetans, Mongolians, Uighurs, Hongkongers and Chinese human rights defenders, and Canadian parliamentarians across the political spectrum, have spent years begging for effective measures – Magnitsky Act sanctions, for instance – to re-order Canada’s obsequious relationship with China.

The focus on the Olympics hasn’t just come out of the blue, either. The IOC ignored warnings from international human rights organizations six years ago that allowing China to host the 2022 Winter Games would only serve the regime’s purposes in silencing its critics. And now, the COC is playing right along, warning Canadian athletes to mind what they say in Beijing lest they offend the sensibilities of the ruling Chinese Communist Party and run afoul of the regime’s draconian national-security laws.

You would think Shoemaker would know better, and of course he does know better. Shoemaker came to his top COC job from a post leading the National Basketball Association’s China operations, which suffered massive reprisals – blacked-out broadcasts, boycotted merchandise, cancelled contracts – all in retaliation for a single Tweet in 2019 by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey: “Fight for Freedom, Stand with Hong Kong.”

It’s quite true that the Soviets were still carpet-bombing Afghanistan nearly a decade after the American-led 1980 Olympic boycott. Nothing changed, you could say. But nothing changed when the western democracies went all in for the Third Reich’s 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, either. All that Olympic “promotion of peace and development” didn’t dissuade the Nazis from annexing the Sudetenland, kicking off the Second World War and incinerating six million Jews.

The IOC’s decision to award Russia the 2014 Winter Games venue in Sochi didn’t cause the Kremlin to repeal its hateful laws against the LGBT community, but it did serve to further engorge Vladimir Putin’s circle of bloated oligarchs. The Sochi Games were supposed to cost $12 billion. The final bill exceeded $51 billion. When the IOC ignored Chinese human rights defenders’ pleas and awarded the 2008 Summer Olympics to the People’s Republic, the regime was not shamed into dropping its policy of bankrolling and arming the Sudanese atrocities in Darfur – the first genocide of the 21st century.

Awarding Beijing the massive propaganda victory of the 2008 Olympics did not dissuade the regime from descending into depths of despotism unmatched since the days of Mao Zedong, nor cause Xi Jinping to have second thoughts about dismembering what little was permitted to remain of Hong Kong’s autonomy. If anything, the regime was encouraged in its degenerate habits, eventually kidnapping the Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. The two Michaels have been imprisoned for more than two years now, in retaliation for Canada’s detention of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on a 13-count U.S. Justice Department extradition warrant.

But pity the poor Canadian athletes, Shoemaker and Pound and the rest of the Olympic establishment plead. These fine young people have trained so hard to compete in this glamorous international forum. Why victimize them?

“We are not the ones who are victimizing the Canadian athletes,” Ivy Li of Canadian Friends of Hong Kong told me. Ivy’s group, along with Students for a Free Tibet Canada, the Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project and several prominent Canadians, including former Liberal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, are calling on the IOC to back away from Beijing and move the Winter Games to a free country.

“The athletes are being victimized by a very bad decision of the IOC. The IOC ignored all the protests and all the advice they were given. They didn’t listen,” Li said. “They gave Beijing the games and they are putting our athletes in this tough spot. Our athletes should not want medals that have been soaked in blood.”

A separate, similar initiative has united Bloc, Conservative, NDP and backbench Liberals who are calling on the federal government to intervene and urge the IOC to find another host city for the Winter Games. “Some may argue that sports and politics should not mix,” the parliamentarians say in a letter they all signed. “We would respond that when genocide is happening, it is no longer a matter of politics, but of human rights and crimes against humanity.”

The Conservative Party’s foreign affairs critic, Michael Chong, and Green Party leader Annamie Paul, have taken the same line. Paul says the federal government should look into finding a Canadian venue for the Winter Games.

Parliamentarians in Europe and the United Kingdom are taking up the same call to move the 2022 Winter Games out of China. While Joe Biden’s new administration hasn’t had much to say on the subject beyond a pledge to develop a “shared approach” to the issue with American allies and partners, there’s a bipartisan push in the U.S. Congress to give the Beijing games a pass.

The main challenge in Ottawa, however, is simply convincing the Trudeau government that Canadians are entitled to have some say in these things at all.

Source: Glavin: Canada’s can’t just shrug off the debate over the Beijing Winter Olympics

Canadian human rights groups among coalition calling for Beijing Olympic boycott

No sign that the Canadian Olympic Committee has any second thoughts. Opportunity for individual athletes to show leadership and a conscience:

Cheuk Kwan wants the world to remember what happened after numerous countries considered boycotting the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, but eventually agreed to participate.

“The world should take 1936 as a lesson,” said Kwan, spokesperson for the Toronto Association for Democracy in China.

“We’re confronting a very similar situation. In hindsight, we should have (boycotted the Berlin Games). It really emboldened Hitler to to go on and attack Poland and start World War II.

“So, this is where we are right now from a moral standpoint.”

The Toronto Association for Democracy in China was among a coalition of 180 rights groups, including several based in Canada, that called for a boycott Wednesday of next year’s Beijing Winter Olympics.

The Games are set to open Feb. 4, 2022, despite the global pandemic.

Wednesday’s call to boycott is around reported human rights abuses against ethnic minorities in China, and coalition is composed of groups representing Tibetans, Uighurs, Inner Mongolians, residents of Hong Kong and others.

The group issued an open letter to governments to support a boycott “to ensure they are not used to embolden the Chinese government’s appalling rights abuses and crackdowns on dissent.”

There were similar calls to boycott the 2008 Beijing Summer Games, but many believed a global spotlight would help clean up reported human rights atrocities in China. That didn’t happen, Kwan said.

“Fast forward to today, from a Canadian standpoint we are probably in a worse situation,” he said.

Among the biggest concerns to Canadians is the continued imprisonment in China of the “two Michaels” — Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

Kovrig and Spavor are marking two years in separate Chinese prisons, on what Canada and dozens of its Western allies say are trumped-up espionage charges in retaliation for the RCMP’s December 2018 arrest of Chinese high-tech executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition warrant.

Another massive human rights issue is the Uighur indoctrination camps in Northwestern China. Since 2016, China has swept a million or more Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities into prisons and indoctrination camps, according to estimates by researchers and rights groups.

“They’ve put millions of people in education camps,” said Mabel Tung of the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement, one of the 180 letter signees. “Family here in Canada have been trying to contact their daughters, their sisters, their brothers that they haven’t seen or heard from in a few years, and they have no way of knowing what happened to them.

“So, it might seem like just a sports event, (but) it’s affecting so many people. We shouldn’t just ignore this fact.”

Dick Pound, one of the International Olympic Committee’s most vocal board members, told the Globe and Mail that Canada should resist calls to boycott next year’s Olympics.

The Montreal native said a boycott would achieve nothing and hurt Canadian athletes.

“Young people gathering in troubled times to compete peacefully in sport — this is a message worth sending and a channel that is worth keeping open even when the government folks are mad at each other,” Pound said.

Tung hopes people understand that “we’re not against the Olympics, we’re not against sports, and I think the Games should happen. But not in China,” she said.

Kwan said he understands arguments around the ineffectiveness of a boycott.

“And a lot of people are saying ‘What about the athletes? They’ll spend their whole lives regretting not going to Beijing,’ and so forth.

“But we have to take a stand morally when two of our citizens are languishing in jail.”

Kwan said China can use the Olympics “as a window dressing” in attempts to clean up its image on the global stage, while continuing its treatment of minorities.

Hitler’s rise in power had numerous countries considered boycotting the ’36 Games, with the U.S. being among the most vocal.

One of the Olympic principles forbids the discrimination by race or religion, Kwan pointed out. Nazi Germany forbid the participation of Jewish athletes in the Berlin Olympics.

The same principle, he said, should be applied to Beijing around the Uighur camps.

Rights group have previously asked the IOC to move the Games from China, but Olympic leaders have largely ignored the demands, saying it’s a sports body that doesn’t get involved in politics.

Pro-Tibet activists held up their flags Wednesday outside the International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Source: Canadian human rights groups among coalition calling for Beijing Olympic boycott