IOC Criticized for Letting China Play Politics at Beijing Games, While Athletes Are Muzzled

Olympic leaders tried to distance themselves from a Chinese official’s claim that reports of major human rights abuses in Xinjiang province were “lies”—but didn’t say anything that might actually offend their host at the Beijing Winter Olympics.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry official as the spokesperson for Beijing 2022, Yan Jiarong, blasted the careful facade of political neutrality at the Olympics on Thursday when she used the meeting. joint press with the IOC to initiate political articles.

In one amazing performanceYan repeatedly interrupted when reporters asked IOC spokesman Mark Adams about the persecution of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang province, and whether Taiwan was forced to participate in the opening ceremony and closing in Beijing or not.

“We have a solemn position,” she announced. “There is only one China in the world. Taiwan is an indivisible part of China, that is a well-recognized international principle. We have always been against the idea of ​​politicizing the Olympic Games.”

Of course, that’s exactly what she did — and human rights campaigners were quick to attack the IOC for letting China get away with it.

Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, told InsideTheGames website. “Yesterday’s press conference told us everything we needed to know.”

More than a dozen countries have joined the US-led “diplomatic boycott” of the Beijing Olympics to protest what the US State Department calls a campaign of genocidal repression against the Weiss. Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, a northwestern province of China.

The IOC has always portrayed itself and the Olympics as world politics and sports as a force for peace. When asked about Yan’s comments, IOC President Thomas Bach told a news conference on Friday that the IOC had not ignored the matter. “We contacted [Beijing organizing committee] Bocog right after this press conference,” he said. “And then both organizations, Bocog and the IOC, renewed their explicit commitment to remain politically neutral, as the Olympic charter requires.”

Give New York TimesBach’s statement amounts to “a rare and surprising rebuke of a Chinese Olympic official. ” That may be true for those who practice the art of IOC-speak decoding, but his words could be interpreted similarly to saying, “We discussed the matter with our Chinese friends. us and agree that there is really no problem. ”

The contrast between Yan’s tough statements from the press center podium and the treatment of athletes in Beijing, who have been warned they will be punished for saying anything political in China, is making a strong impression. Journalists have also complained about the censorship and rough handling of Olympic staff who disrupted their reporting from Beijing.

The only athlete to take a public stance on human rights during the Olympics was Nils van der Poel, double speed skating gold medalist – although he waited until he returned home to Sweden. Newly told reporters: “It is irresponsible to award the Game to a country that blatantly violates human rights like the Chinese Government is doing.”

Human Rights Watch researcher Yaqiu Wang told InsideTheGames that China’s hosting of the Olympics for the second time reinforced rather than encouraged human rights abuses. She said Beijing’s decision to choose a young Uyghur skier lighting the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony at Bird’s Nest is “like a middle finger to the rest of the world”.

It was, she added, “it was as if the Nazis chose a Jewish athlete to light the cauldron in 1936” – as Adolf Hitler greeted the Olympics in Berlin, which still had to rank as the lowest point in the competition. IOC history.

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