Levitt: Morals, not medals, must guide our way on decision to attend the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing

Good commentary and call. Given that calls to mode the games from Beijing are unlikely to be agreed to by the IOC and many member countries, the government and COC have to face up to the reality that non-attendance is the only realistic option:

A genocide is happening, but Olympic officials want us to look the other way. As the issue of Canada’s participation in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics has heated up in recent days, it has been disappointing to see the debate focus primarily on the efficacy, or lack thereof, of previous Olympic boycotts, and the need to separate sports and politics. 

Surely, the discussion must be focused on Canada taking a strong moral stand in the face of the abysmal human rights record of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The facts speak for themselves; the arbitrary detention of the two Michaels, the violent crackdown on democracy activists in Hong Kong, and of course, the perpetrating of genocide against the Uighurs in Xinjiang province.

On this last point, one cannot and must not compartmentalize genocide, arguably the greatest of all evils in human history. As millions of Uighurs face unspeakable abuse, including accusations of mass detention, forced sterilization, and recent reports of systematic rape, sexual abuse and torture, the 2022 Winter Olympics simply cannot be business as usual. 

It is misguided to leave the critical discussion about whether Canadian athletes should compete in Beijing to be had behind the closed doors of the Canadian Olympic Committee. This debate needs to take place on the floor of the House of Commons, allowing Canadians to have their say through their elected members of Parliament. 

This past summer, Parliament’s Subcommittee on International Human Rights held a series of emergency hearings on “The Human Rights Situation of the Uighurs.” In a unanimously adopted statement, the committee unequivocally condemned the Chinese government for its persecution of the Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang, and stated that they were “persuaded that the actions of the Chinese Communist Party constitutes genocide as laid out in the Genocide Convention.” 

Further, just last week, 13 MPs from all five federal parties signed a letter urging the International Olympic Committee to relocate the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to another country in response to the CCP’s human rights abuses against the Uighur minority. 

It is a source of great personal pride that as a member of Parliament, I was able to raise my voice in support of two unanimous motions in the House of Commons recognizing the genocides being perpetrated against the Yazidis in 2016 and the Rohingya in 2018. 

Just as we did then, Canadian parliamentarians must once again be given the opportunity to rise in the House to address the situation facing the Uighurs and be heard on the determination of genocide. Only in this context can the full implication of Canada’s participation in the 2022 Beijing Games be properly evaluated. 

Since the introduction of the modern games in 1896, the Olympics have not only been a site of international co-operation and celebration, they have also acted as a lightning rod for social, economic and political tensions. Superpowers have long recognized the symbolic power of gold medals and awe-inspiring opening ceremonies in shaping public perceptions of host nations. 

So-called “sportswashing,” the hosting of a sporting event as a means for a country to improve its reputation, in particular on a poor human rights record, throws the legitimacy of the Games themselves into question.

The ethical implications of participating in the Olympics when they are hosted by a nation guilty of gross human rights abuses has been a point of international debate for decades. One only has to look back to the 2008 Beijing Olympics to see the extensive laundry list of human rights violations that intensified in the preparation for and hosting of the Games in China; a dark legacy that still lingers to this day. 

Canadians want nothing more than to celebrate and support our incredible athletes on the world stage, but not at any cost. As human rights icon Irwin Cotler reminds us, “in the face of evil, indifference is acquiescence, if not complicity in evil itself.” 

If Canada’s participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics requires our complicity with a regime perpetrating genocide, it is simply a price we cannot afford to pay.

Source: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2021/02/16/moral-not-metals-must-guide-our-way-on-decision-to-attend-the-2022-winter-games-in-beijing.html

Canadian Olympic Committee board member rejects calls for boycott of Beijing Olympics

Of course he would. Interest trumps values and principles. Laughable “We try and keep it as apolitical as possible” when we know for the Chinese regime it is political:

One of the Canadian Olympic Committee’s most prominent board members says Canada should resist calls to boycott the 2022 Beijing Olympics over allegations of genocide in China or the imprisonment of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

Richard Pound, who was president of the Canadian Olympic Committee in 1980, the last time Canada boycotted an Olympic games, said in an interview that refusing to participate in 2022 would achieve nothing and only hurt Canadian athletes.

He said “probably 70 per cent” of Olympic athletes make it to just one Olympic games.

“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,” Mr. Pound said.

Critics of China’s human rights record in Canada and abroad have urged Western countries to pull their athletes from the 2022 Olympics. They cite China’s crackdown on civil rights and the rule of law in Hong Kong, and its internment camps and forced sterilization for Muslim Uyghurs. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said China’s actions constitute genocide. A Canadian House of Commons committee condemned the treatment of Uyghurs as genocide, and Arif Virani, the parliamentary secretary to Canada’s Justice Minister and Attorney-General, last fall told the Commons that “it is genocide that appears to be taking place today in China.”

Nathan Law, one of Hong Kong’s most prominent dissidents, last fall urged Canada to organize a boycott of the 2022 Olympics with other liberal democracies to show China its oppression of Hong Kongers and Uyghurs has real consequences.

Mr. Pound said Canada tried a boycott already, when the U.S. led 65 countries to skip the Moscow Olympics over the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. He said it was devastating for Canadian athletes — “we just ripped the guts out of our Olympians” — and was ineffective.

“They were so furious with what was then the Soviet Union that they were going to teach them a lesson,” Mr. Pound recalled. “And, of course, it didn’t get the Soviets out of Afghanistan at all.”

He noted that at the same time as the boycott, Canadian wheat sales to Russia soared. The Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries and allies in turn boycotted the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Mr. Pound said Canadians should understand that Beijing doesn’t own the 2022 Games. “They are not Chinese games. They are the International Olympic Committee’s games and they are being held in China.”

Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong said if Canada truly believes genocide is taking place, it has to be prepared to match its condemnation with action. United Nations experts have said at least one million Uyghurs and other Muslims have been detained in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region in camps the Chinese government calls vocational and education training centres. Beijing says it’s trying to stamp out terrorism and extremism.

“I think it’s pretty difficult for democracies to act as if it’s business as usual when there is evidence of a genocide going on in China, amongst other gross human rights violations,” Mr. Chong said. “I don’t see how a country like Canada, and other democracies, can turn a blind eye to that.”

He said Canada must consider a boycott not only for the mistreatment of the Uyghurs, but also for conduct such as breaching an agreement with Britain to maintain civil rights and the rule of law in Hong Kong for 50 years after the 1997 handover of the former British colony.

NDP foreign affairs critic Jack Harris said his party would like Canada to work with allies to get the host country changed.

China, he said, “is not a place we want to see our athletes encouraged to go.” He said the dispute with China is not a political issue but a humanitarian issue.

Mr. Chong said if Canada sends teams to the Beijing Olympics, the athletes should consider wearing a symbol or patch to show solidarity with Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor, who have been locked up for more than 785 days by China in what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called “retaliation” for the arrest in Canada of a Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. executive on a U.S. extradition warrant.

Mr. Pound said patches are not a good idea. “That’s attractive, but what if another country thinks it’s nice to wear swastikas?” he said. “We try and keep it as apolitical as possible.”

Canada’s minority Liberal government has distanced itself from the discussion.

Camille Gagné-Raynauld, press secretary for Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, said in a statement that the decision lies with the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees, which are independent of the federal government.

Mr. Pound said China could dismiss a Canadian boycott as a dispute over Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor, whom it has accused of spying.

Beijing would tell its citizens Canada is angry because the Chinese “have two Canadian criminals in custody — and that is the way it would be perceived,” he said.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-canadian-olympic-committee-director-rejects-calls-for-boycott-of/

Canada won’t lead boycott of 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing

Wrong call, as others have mentioned. Will be used as propaganda by the Chinese regime much as Hitler used the 1936 Berlin Olympics (only saved by Jesse Owen’s win).

Canadian Olympians, and the Canadian Olympic Committee, need to reflect hard on their complicity with the various aspects of Chinese repression (Uighurs, Hong Kong, arbitrary arrests etc) should they attend – even if the two Michael’s are released by then:

The Canadian government has no plans to lead the way amid growing calls for an international boycott of the 2022 Olympics in China.

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne told the House of Commons special committee on Canada-China relations Monday that a decision on a boycott should be left to private sports bodies participating in the Winter Games in Beijing.

“I think when it comes to sports and politics … one has to be careful. That is a decision for the Canadian Olympic Committee to make and certainly we will look to see their decision when it comes to the Olympics in Beijing,” Champagne told MPs.

Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong raised the issue, noting that former Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick had suggested last week that the government should start preparing the Canadian public for a boycott of the Olympic Games. The Winter Olympics are scheduled to take place in Beijing in February, 2022.

David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador, has called on Ottawa to boycott the Olympic Games and to impose sanctions on China for its human-rights abuses. John Higginbotham, who previously served as commissioner for Canada in Hong Kong, a role equivalent to an ambassador, has also said Canada should organize a boycott of the Games unless China “lays off Hong Kong.”

In September, more than 160 human-rights groups called on the IOC to withdraw the Games from Beijing because of gross human-rights abuses. In a letter, the organizations said China has put more than one million Uyghurs in detention camps and set up an “Orwellian surveillance network” in Tibet and crushed democratic dissent in Hong Kong.

Britain’s foreign secretary, Dominic Rabb, has refused to rule out boycotting the Beijing Games because of the treatment of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjing region, where they have been subject to mass incarceration, forced sterilizations and forced labour.

United States Senators Rick Scott and Josh Hawley have urged NBC Universal, which owns the rights to broadcast the Beijing Olympics, to “pick human rights over profits” and refuse to air the Games.

A Canadian House of Commons committee recently accused China of committing “genocide” against its Muslim minorities and has called for Magnitsky-style sanctions against Chinese officials. The committee did not call for a boycott of the Olympics.

Beijing is set to become the first city to play host to both Summer and Winter Games.

Last week, the COC announced that two-time Olympic gold medallist speedskater Catriona Le May Doan will serve as Canada’s chef de mission for the 2022 Olympics.

In his testimony Monday evening, Champagne appeared to back off a pledge to unveil a new framework for Canada-China policy before the end of the year.

Under questioning from MPs, the minister would only say that Canada’s China policy is “evolving” and that is based on Canadian interests, values and principles on human rights and rules and partnership.

“Our foreign policy needs to evolve with an evolving China … and that is what we are already putting in motion,” he said.

Senior officials have privately played down the significance of Champagne’s talk of a new China policy. Officials told The Globe there will be no formal declaration on China but relations will be managed with the new reality that Chinese President Xi Jinping has adopted an aggressive and regressive policy within China and to the outside world.

In his opening remarks, Champagne acknowledged that the China of 2015 is not the China of today, expressing concern about its expansion policies, including in the High Arctic.

Senior officials have privately played down the significance of Champagne’s talk of a new China policy. Officials told The Globe there will be no formal declaration on China but relations will be managed with the new reality that Chinese President Xi Jinping has adopted an aggressive and regressive policy within China and to the outside world.

In his opening remarks, Champagne acknowledged that the China of 2015 is not the China of today, expressing concern about its expansion policies, including in the High Arctic.

“We see a country and leadership that is increasingly prepared to throw its weight around to expand its interests,” he said. “China’s ambition even reaches the Arctic region with aims to develop shipping lanes … this is a new reality that we need to take into account and thus engage with China with eyes wide open.”

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-canada-wont-lead-boycott-of-2022-olympic-games-in-beijing/?utm_medium=Referrer:+Social+Network+/+Media&utm_campaign=Shared+Web+Article+Links

Alan Freeman: Boycotting the 2022 Winter Games should be one way Canada sticks it to China

Extremely hard on the athletes but valid approach if done in concert with other countries:

The Pew Research Center this week came out with some shocking, yet unsurprising, numbers. China’s reputation is in free fall around the world.

According to Pew, a majority of respondents in every one of 14 nations surveyed had a negative view of China. In nine of the countries, including Canada, negative views are at the highest point since the respected research institute began polling on the question more than a decade ago.

In Canada, 73 per cent of respondents had a negative view of China in 2020, compared with only 27 per cent back in 2007.

China’s human-rights abuses against the Uyghurs and other minorities, its attack on democracy in Hong Kong, and its assertive territorial claims in the South China Sea have had an impact.

For Canadians, these bully tactics have a particular edge after the kidnapping and imprisonment on trumped-up charges of our fellow citizens, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

What to do? We all know there’s a crowd of well-connected China-appeasers here who want to start hostage talks with Beijing, and are willing to trade away not just Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, but our self-respect, in the naive hope that the two Michaels will be freed. Thankfully, the Trudeau government has kiboshed that idea.

Furthermore, we’re now seeing more signs that our government realizes Canadians are paying attention and don’t want to roll over in the face of China’s aggressiveness. According to the Globe and Mail, Canada has quietly begun accepting pro-democracy activists from Hong Kong as “Convention refugees,” individuals with a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion or political opinion.

Beijing won’t be happy.

That follows Canada’s earlier suspension of its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, a ban on exports of sensitive goods to Hong Kong, and a suggestion it could soon boost immigration from the beleaguered former British colony. It’s clearly not enough.

What else can we do? Well, look at the calendar. In just 16 months’ time, Beijing is due to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, another opportunity for China to strut itself as a superpower, the way it used the 2008 Summer Games to make a big splash.

How can we even contemplate sending the cream of our athletes, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looking on, and watching them gleefully enter Beijing’s Olympic Stadium for glitzy opening ceremonies while Canadians remain behind bars in a Chinese prison?

There is an alternative. This week, the British foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, suggested that if evidence continues to mount that the rights of Uyghur Muslims are being trampled, the U.K. will consider boycotting the Games. “Generally speaking, my instinct is to separate sport from diplomacy and politics, but there comes a point when this is not possible,” Raab told a parliamentary committee.

In Australia, where anti-China sentiments are even more ingrained than in Canada, Parliament will soon be asked to support a boycott of the Games. “The time has come for the freedom-loving countries to say to Beijing: ‘Enough is enough,’ ” according to an Australian Liberal senator, Eric Abetz. He also wondered why individual Australian athletes would want to lend their credibility to such a regime.

Easy for the U.K. and Australia to say no to Beijing 2022, you might say. They’re hardly a presence at the Winter Games, winning only a few medals apiece in a good year. Canada, on the other hand, is a Winter Olympics powerhouse, earning the No. 3 spot in the medal take in 2018 in South Korea.

All the more reason for us to boycott. The Winter Olympics is one place where we can make a difference. If Canada could convince Norway, Germany, the U.S., Netherlands and South Korea to pull out of the Games (the top six performers in Korea), China would be stuck with a shell of an Olympic Games. It means we have a chance to make a real difference.

I reached out to Guy St-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador to China, and asked him for his views. “It is now impossible to remain ambivalent on China, knowing what they are doing in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, the South China Sea, etc., and the way they have punished Canada for the arrest of Meng Wanzhou,” he told me.

St-Jacques said Canada should adopt a concerted approach with our allies, and threaten an Olympic boycott “if they don’t allow a UN delegation to go to Xinjiang to investigate the situation of the Uyghurs, repeal the National Security Law (in Hong Kong), or suspend its application and free the two Michaels.”

China needs to be reminded that if it wants to play a larger role on the world stage, it has to abide by international laws and treaties and stop acting the bully, including by engaging in hostage diplomacy, he said.

For those who argue that the Games are above politics, that’s clearly hogwash. The Olympics have been subject to political machinations since the beginning, and authoritarian regimes going back to Hitler’s Germany in 1936 have used them to legitimize their unsavoury policies.

Boycotts have been done before. In 1980, Canada joined a stream of Western countries and boycotted the Games in Moscow. And the 1976 Montreal Games was hit by a walkout of African nations in protest of apartheid in South Africa.

Standing up to a bully exacts a price. Not watching Team Canada play for gold in hockey or curling at Beijing in February 2022 should be a price Canadians are willing to pay.

Source: Boycotting the 2022 Winter Games should be one way Canada sticks it to China