No Time for Talk About Human Rights and Civil Liberties; Olympics is Just 4 Months Away

A man adjusts an emblem of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games before a ceremony unveiling the slogan, in Beijing, China September 17, 2021. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

When the International Olympic Committee awarded Beijing the 2008 Summer Olympics, it promised the Games could improve human rights and civil liberties in China. But that was just talk and empty words and will remain empty words as of now, what with Beijing’s 2022 Winter Olympics opening in just four months on February 4th, 2022.

Instead, there are some calls for governments to boycott the Games with 3,000 athletes, sponsors, and broadcasters being lobbied by rights groups representing minorities across China.

IOC President Thomas Bach has repeatedly dodged questions about the appropriateness of holding the Games in China despite evidence of alleged genocide, vast surveillance, and crimes against humanity involving at least 1 million Uyghurs and other largely Muslim minorities.

The difference between the Beijing of 2008 and the Beijing of 2021 might explain some things.

“The big difference between the two Beijing Games is that in 2008 Beijing tried to please the world,” Xu Guoqi, a historian at the University of Hong Kong, said in an email to The Associated Press. “In 2022, it does not really care about what the rest of the world thinks about it.”

An expert on Chinese sports and the Olympics, Xu said Beijing in 2008 attempted to placate “world opinion.”

What about the Beijing of today? “Now it tries its best to tell the world its intentions. If the world does not listen, so be it,” Xu wrote.

Xi Jinping is now the powerful general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, but in 2008 he was in charge of running the Olympics.

 – Ella Breedlove