The Beijing Olympics demolish the IOC’s oldest myth: sport is apolitical | 2022 Winter Olympics

LLess than a month before the start of the Beijing Winter Olympics, the Games are a huge political thicket. China deserves global condemnation for its human rights violations against Uyghurs and other Turkish Muslims in Xinjiang province, which Human Rights Watch said calls “crimes against humanity”. The Chinese cities of Xi’an and Yuzhou are on lockdown after experiencing the largest Covid-19 outbreak the country has seen since the early days of the pandemic. The National Hockey League has withdrawn its players from the Games in light of coronavirus concerns. The Olympic qualifying events are in disarray, ravaged by positive cases for Covid. A diplomatic boycott by the United States, Australia, Britain and Canada only added to the chaos.

When the Biden administration announcement His diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry replied that the Olympics were “not a scene of political posture and manipulation”, adding that the boycott was “a serious parody of the ‘spirit of the Olympic charter’ and ‘a flagrant political provocation’.

Hypocrisy abounds in all directions. The Chinese official was right: a diplomatic boycott is a political act, just like boycott of China from the 1980 Moscow Olympics on the host nation’s invasion of Afghanistan was political. While Guantánamo remains open under the Biden administration and houses the “prisoner forever” Abu Zubaydah – who resisted CIA waterboarding more than 60 times – the finger waving the president seems misleading. But when it comes to the hypocrisy of the Olympics, the International Olympic Committee wins gold. The group that oversees the Games was the real author of a “grave parody of the spirit of the Olympic Charter” when, in 2015, it chose Beijing to host even though it knew full well at the time that China engaged in extreme human activities. – violations of rights which have come up against the olympic charter commitment to “the preservation of human dignity”.

The hypocrisy of the IOC is legendary. Behind the public relations desk, the group avoids politics while take credit for convincing the political leaders of North and South Korea to create “unified” hockey teams competing under one flag at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games. The IOC trumpets its high-level political negotiations with the Taliban to ensure safe passage for Afghan athletes. In 2001, when Beijing was in contention for the 2008 Summer Olympics, the city’s bid team promised that hosting the Games would revive political and human rights in China, a claim the IOC used to justify its selection. This dreamlike landscape of human rights never happened. It is telling that today neither China nor the IOC promises that the Olympics will boost democracy.

The IOC’s willful gullibility reappeared when it obediently intervened in the case of Peng Shuai, the three-time tennis Olympian who accused a high-profile Chinese politician of sexual coercion. IOC President Thomas Bach held a 30-minute video call with the athlete, then broadcast A declaration that she was “safe and sound”. It was more of a blatant publicity stunt designed to ensure the smooth running of the Beijing Games than a sincere effort to assess the well-being of the athlete. Peng then withdrew his allegations under suspicious conditions.

The Beijing Olympics are more than sport. The US diplomatic boycott comes amid escalating tensions between China and many Western countries. In the United States, China has become a bipartisan punching bag, with politicians on both sides of the aisle making unproven claims that would make McCarthy blush. It fuels overly simple narratives that juxtapose a freedom-loving United States with an evil Chinese state. This moralistic perspective, in turn, fuels the American war machine; when the congress pass The massive $ 770 billion defense bill, which included $ 24 billion more than Biden had requested, analysts rationalized the hike by citing China as a growing geopolitical threat. This saber noise ignores the fact that the United States has about 750 military bases around the world while China has only one, and this comes at a time when US-China cooperation is vital on climate change and other security issues.

Additionally, US politicians are quick to criticize China while ignoring the human rights abuses for which they are responsible, from caged children on the Mexican border to unconditional support for Israel (a country Human Rights Watch recently reported on. describe as having committed “crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution” against Palestinians) to the homeless situation in the United States, a humanitarian crisis in sight (in Los Angeles, host of the 2028 Olympics , around 1,500 homeless residents have died since the start of the coronavirus pandemic). The demonization campaign works: in 2021, the Pew Research Center find that 67% in the United States had negative feelings towards China, a 21% increase since 2018.

In a sense, the IOC is complicit in escalating tensions between China and the United States, and it has put the athletes in the middle of the mess. On the one hand you have an obvious human rights violator as the host and on the other you have the CIO twiddling his thumbs as he prepares to count his money. In this ethical vacuum, pressure is mounting on athletes to step up and lead – some academics and activists even call on the athletes to boycott the Games. The Olympic athletes are in a difficult position, but it was the International Olympic Committee that put them there. Athletes have no say in where the Olympic Games go, and when the IOC hands the Games to a repressive host, Olympians too often bear the brunt. The IOC has a slogan: “Prioritize athletes”. But when the IOC postponed the Olympics to Beijing, it actually put the athletes in the bottom.

The IOC continues to hide behind its thin canvas of apolitanism despite much evidence to the contrary. At the very least, the 2022 Beijing Games should spell the end of the laughable myth that the Olympics are not political. Sport is never just sport. Let’s see the Beijing Games for what they are: a stage for growing global hegemony with serious human rights issues and democracy on a fan.

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