Human Rights Activists Decry IOC’s Stance on Upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics

By Danella Pérez Schmieloz
Danella Pérez Schmieloz
Danella Pérez Schmieloz
China Reporter
October 19, 2021 Updated: October 19, 2021

Rights groups and others have voiced their concerns over comments made by International Olympic Committee vice-president John Coates, who has ruled out pressing the Chinese regime over its human rights record ahead of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Speaking to reporters at the National Press Club of Australia on Oct. 13, Coates said that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) places a very high emphasis on human rights.

“But the IOC is not—the IOC’s remit is to ensure that there is no human rights abuses in respect of the conduct of the Games within the National Olympic Committees or within the Olympic movement,” Coates said, reported Reuters.

“We have no ability to go into a country and tell them what to do. All we can do is to award the Olympics to a country, under conditions set out in a host contract … and then ensure that they are followed.”

His comments came amid pleas from human rights groups, and U.S. and international lawmakers to either boycott the event, or postpone and relocate it, due to reports and mounting evidence that the Chinese regime is committing genocide against Uyghurs and other minority groups.

Rex Patrick, an Australian senator, was one who voiced his disapproval of Coates’ statement.

“That just means the remit is wrong … There can’t be Olympic neutrality in the face of genocide,” Patrick said, reported The Washington Post.

The Germany-based World Uyghur Congress likewise issued their concerns.

“The IOC continues to ignore the most fundamental principles set out in the Olympic Charter,” the congress said via Twitter on Oct. 14. “Vice President John Coates rejected calls for #NoBeijing2022, saying China’s human rights record, including the #UyghurGenocide, is not within the IOC’s remit.”

The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) campaign against Uyghurs in Xinjiang has been labeled genocide by human rights groups. as well as a number of nations including the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Epoch Times Photo
IOC Chairman John Coates speaks at the official opening of the Sleeman Sports Complex Opens Olympic Winter Sports Training Facility in Brisbane, Australia, on May 5, 2021. (Jono Searle/Getty Images)

Former Canadian Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific David Kilgour said he believes Coates is wrong.

“Coates is overlooking the long history of the Olympic Games, which includes, prominently, respect for all human beings,” Kilgour told The Epoch Times in an email.

The 2008 Beijing Olympics were also against these traditions, he added.

Anders Corr, principal at advisory firm Corr Analytics, told The Epoch Times that the IOC should not allow a country that commits genocide to host the Games.

The IOC is “showing a profound lack [of judgement] in its dealing with China’s atrocities,” Corr said, adding that relocating the Games would not only serve to pressure the Chinese regime on human rights issues but also “demonstrate a consequence that would have a deterrent effect on other would-be genocidal regimes.”

The Olympic Charter states that one of the sporting event’s goals is “promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.” Many have argued that allowing China to host the next winter Games is contrary to this principle, while legitimizing the regime’s human rights abuses.

The CCP has been accused of systematic human rights abuses such as campaigns against Uyghurs and the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. The regime has further been accused of suppressing civil liberties in Hong Kong, and harvesting vital organs from prisoners of conscience, killing them in the process for profit. Human rights defenders, lawyers, and political dissidents have also been subjected to state repression.

On July 23, U.S. lawmakers demanded that the IOC postpone the 2022 Beijing Winter Games and change the venue if the Chinese regime did not halt its genocidal campaign against the Uyghurs.

Danella Pérez Schmieloz