CONTACTS:
Dorjee Tseten, Students for a Free Tibet,  +1 6467533889
Frances Hui, We The Hongkongers, +1 425-245-4818
Mandie McKeown, International Tibet Network, +44 (0)7748158618
Zumretay Arkin, World Uyghur Congress, +4915733405314
Fengsuo Zhou, Tiananmen Survivor, +1 5103712098

Beijing Winter Olympics 2022: Over 160 Campaign Groups call on the International Olympic Committee to ‘reverse past mistakes’ in awarding Beijing the 2022 Winter Olympics

Activists remind the IOC of past warnings of China’s human rights atrocities ahead of the Executive Committee meeting in Lausanne. 

Today a coalition of Tibetan, Uyghur, Southern Mongolian, Hong Kong, Taiwanese, Chinese Democracy and human rights campaign groups delivered a letter [1] to International Olympic Committee (IOC) President, Thomas Bach, urging the Committee to ‘reverse its mistake in awarding Beijing the honour of hosting the Winter Olympic Games in 2022’. [2] The letter was delivered by hand by a group of Tibetans and supporters in Lausanne ahead of the IOC Executive Board meeting on 9th September 2020. [3]

The campaigners reminded Mr Bach, of the warnings given to his predecessor, Jacques Rogge, over the controversial decision to award Beijing the 2008 Summer Olympic Games; warnings that were ignored and ended in the IOC’s reputation being indelibly tarnished by its mistaken belief that the 2008 Olympics would work to improve China’s human rights record. [4]

The joint letter outlines how the prestige of hosting the Olympic Games “merely emboldened the Chinese government’s actions” and led to  “a gross increase on the assault on communities living under its rule.” Since 2008 we have witnessed the construction of an Orwellian surveillance state in occupied Tibet, [5] the incarceration of between 1.8 to 3 million Uyghurs, [6] the recent demolition of ‘One Country Two Systems’ in Hong Kong that breach multiple international laws and the UN Declaration of Human Rights, [7] the erasure of Southern Mongolian culture and language, [8] the ongoing military intimidation and geopolitical bullying of Taiwan, and the detention, disappearance and death of countless Chinese lawyers, feminists, democracy activists, and anyone else deemed a threat by the Chinese Communist Party. [8]

Frontline communities and human rights groups appealed to the IOC ahead of the 2022 host city decision, calling on the Committee to not repeat the mistakes as in 2008 and to use the clear evidence of the sharp decline in human rights protections to conclude Beijing is not a worthy choice.[9] In response to these appeals the IOC responded in a letter to International Tibet Network,[10] to state: “assurances were provided [by Beijing] concerning the following matters: human rights, the right to demonstrate, media freedom to report on the Games with no restrictions on the Internet, labour rights, displacement and environmental protection.” The letter continued, “Taking these into consideration, as well as the open nature of the discussions with Beijing 2022 and government authorities as well as China’s experience from organising the 2008 […] the IOC is confident that the Government of China would take all necessary measures to ensure the Olympic Charter and Host City Contract would be respected.” [11]

However, these assurances have simply not been adhered to and it is time for the IOC to recognize that the Olympic spirit and the reputation of the Olympic Games will suffer further damage if the worsening human rights crisis, across all areas under China’s control, is simply ignored.

Dorjee Tseten, Executive Director, Students of a Free Tibet said: “The 2008 Summer Olympics were tainted by China’s already appalling human rights and 12 years on, with the Winter Olympics drawing nearer, things are far worse. The IOC must recognize that the Olympic spirit and the reputation of the Olympic Games will suffer further damage if China’s crime against humanity is ignored. The IOC must abide by the Olympic Charter’s core principles about “human dignity” and reverse its mistake and stand with Human Rights.”

Dolkun Isa, President, World Uyghur Congress said: “ It is clear that holding the 2022 Olympics in Beijing whilst China carries out genocide and crimes against humanity against the Uyghur and other Turkic Muslim people is not compatible with the IOC Charter. The IOC can no longer claim ignorance of China’s genocide against the Uyghur people. If the IOC allows China to host the 2022 Winter Games, it is willfully and intentionally abandoning the values and principles that underpin the Olympic Movement.”

Frances Hui, We The Hongkongers said: “As seen from China’s aggressive crackdown on activists, protestors, and the forcefully introduced National Security Law in Hong Kong, China is aggressively demolishing human rights and freedom of Hong Kong people; an act that follows the genocide of Tibetan and Uyghur communities. By allowing China to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, the IOC is knowingly turning a blind eye to China’s human rights violations and knowingly repeating history. We urge the IOC to stand with the communities that believe in freedom and to uphold the spirit of the Olympic movement by relocating the 2022 Winter Olympic Games to another reputable country.”

 Fengsuo Zhou, Tiananmen Survivor & Founder of Humanitarian China said: “Under Xi Jinping rule, the human rights situation in China has gone from bad to worse with the disappearance and death of countless Chinese lawyers, feminists, democracy activists, and anyone else deemed a threat by the Chinese Communist Party. Ignoring China’s gross human rights abuses, IOC is instead empowering Beijing with the honor of hosting the Games. This is a betrayal of the Olympic Charter and a transgression of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is clear that the Chinese government’s authoritarian practices of censorship and repression endanger people everywhere.”

Mandie McKeown of the International Tibet Network said: “In 2008 the IOC assured the global community that China’s human rights record would improve as a result of staging the Games; instead we have seen the opposite. The scale of the human rights crisis in Tibet, East Turkestan, and Hong Kong demands a rethink of where the 2022 Winter Olympics will be held, and we are calling on Thomas Bach, and the IOC, to stand on the right side of history and to reverse the decision for the Games to be held in Beijing.”

-ends-

NOTES TO EDITORS:

  1. Joint letter to the International Olympic Committee, 8 September 2020: https://tibetnetwork.org/freedom2/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/IOC-2022-Joint-Letter_-Beijing-Winter-Olympics-2022-.pdf
  2. The letter was delivered by members of The Tibetan Community in Switzerland and Swiss Tibetan Friendship Association – an image of the delivery is available at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Dqdhc8X6y7GLnyXgc9GfPDELpqJzY4Oz/
  3. The International Olympic Committee Executive Board will meet on Wednesday 9 September 2020 – https://www.olympic.org/news/ioc-executive-board-meeting-information-for-the-media-2
  4. Comments regarding human rights in China made by IOC members and officials:

“We are totally aware there is one issue on the table, and that is human rights. Either you say because of some serious human rights issues, we close the door, deliver a vote that is regarded as a sanction and hope things evolve better. The other way is to bet on openness. We are taking the bet that we will see many changes.” IOC Director General François Carrard, IOC news conference, 13 July 2001 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/03/sports/olympics/03longman.html?pagewanted=print&_r=0

“We are convinced that the Olympic Games will improve human rights in China.” IOC president Jacques Rogge, BBC Hardtalk, April 2002

“The decision in 2001 to give the games to China was made in the hope of improvement in human rights and, indeed, the Chinese themselves said that having the games would accelerate progress in such matters.” — IOC member Dick Pound in his book Inside the Olympics (John Wiley & Sons, 2006)

5. Tibet is one of the most heavily-restricted countries in the world. In March 2020 Freedom House ranked Tibet as the 2nd ‘least free’ place in the world for the fifth consecutive year; only Syria ranks as less free: https://freedomhouse.org/country/tibet/freedom-world/2020; Human Rights Watch, ‘China Delves into Past to Police Tibet’s Future’: https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/09/07/china-delves-past-police-tibets-future

6. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination reviews the report of China https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23452&LangID=E

7. https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TMResultsBase/DownLoadPublicCommunicationFile?gId=25487

8. http://www.smhric.org/news_679.htm

9. https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2020/country-chapters/global

10. International Tibet Network is a global coalition of more than 120 Tibet organisations dedicated to campaigning to end human rights violations in Tibet and restoring rights to the Tibetan people – www.TibetNetwork.org

11. https://tibetnetwork.org/freedom2/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Losing-The-Bet-on-Human-Rights-Tibet_Beijing-Olympic-Bid-2022.pdf

12. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1rpaUpoCbjQg1_8sE4aMayyIADjoR0Gvy/

13. Beijing 2022: Another Gold for Human Rights Abuse? https://drive.google.com/file/d/1hKcRiyHyrY7vc-8x8yhrmmViraf5hEGe/

14. Over a hundred movement-based organisations and allies will take part in a  “Resist Chinese Communist Party: Global Day of Action” on 1 October 2020, the founding anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. From Sydney to Washington DC, Taiwan to London, Dharamsala to Mexico City,  protests are being planned in at least fifty cities across the world. See https://ResistChina.org/ for more information.