As if pulling off the world’s signature sporting event in Tokyo this summer during a global pandemic wasn’t challenge enough, the International Olympic Committee is now facing a chorus of voices calling for a boycott of next February’s Beijing Winter Olympics. Politicians from across the political spectrum as well as hundreds of human rights groups say that China’s crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong and the genocide of the Uyghur community violate the fundamental principles of the Olympic charter and that the IOC must preserve the integrity of its mission by calling off the event. They argue that a failure to do so sends the message that the world condones China’s actions, gives the country the international prestige it craves but has not earned, and misses a key opportunity to push for important human rights improvements in the country. Olympics boosters counter that more than ever the games need to go on: in our fractured world an international gathering of amateur athletes competing at the highest level sets just the kind of example of global cooperation the world needs right now and the Olympics are intended for. They argue that using athletes and the century-old Olympics to pursue geopolitical goals is what flies in the face of the movement’s values, not hosting an event in an undemocratic country. Boycotts punish athletes and destroy their careers with no impact on a host country’s conduct. The Moscow Olympic boycott in 1980 accomplished nothing and a Beijing boycott would be no different.
Arguing for the motion is Jules Boykoff, Professor of Politics and Government at Pacific University, in Oregon, a former professional soccer player who played on the US Olympic Soccer team, and the author of numerous books about the Olympics, most recently NOlympians: Inside the Fight Against Capitalist Mega-Sports in Los Angeles, Tokyo and Beyond.
Arguing against the motion is Richard Pound, a former Olympic swimmer who is a Canadian member and former Vice President of the International Olympic Committee. He was also the first president of the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Sources: Sky News Australia, Fox News, CNBC, NTD UK News CBC, CBS News, NBC News, Senator Mitt Romney, IOC Media
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