Congress urges IOC to remove 2022 Olympics from Beijing
Members of Congress’ Human Rights Commission, in a rare display of bipartisan unity, on Tuesday called on the International Olympic Committee to remove the 2022 Winter Olympics from Beijing, accusing the IOC and its corporate partners of being complicit in human rights violations by the Chinese government.
Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives also joined a series of human rights experts in urging the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee to pressure the IOC to relocate the 2022 Games and criticized the IOC and USOPC for declining to attend Tuesday’s hearing.
The hearing, titled “China, Genocide and the Olympics,” is the first step in what Sen. Jeff Merkley and Rep. James P. McGovern vowed will be weeks of Congressional pressure on the IOC, USOPC and their corporate sponsors to move the Games out of China.
“Unless things dramatically change, the Winter Olympics will be held in a country as its government commits acts amounting to genocide,” McGovern, co-chairman of the Tom Lantos Congressional Human Rights Commission. “Is anyone in a hearing comfortable with that? Is anyone in a position of influence comfortable with that? Why are we holding an Olympics during a genocide is precisely the question (McGovern and Merkley) intend to ask the International Olympic Committee and the Beijing 2022 corporate sponsors in the coming weeks.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also called for a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games.“To go to China in the middle of genocide that is going on while you’re in you’re sitting in your seat (at Olympic events) calls into question what moral authority to you have to speak on human rights any place in the world if you’re going to pay your respects to the Chinese government as they commit genocide,” the California Democrat said.
Three cities had earlier withdrawn their bids to host the 2022 Games and at least 13 cities that had publicly stated interest in hosting decided against launching bids.
“In granting Beijing host status for the Olympic Games, we are crowning a barbarous regime with laurels while we should be condemning their abuse and genocide,” said Rep. Christopher H. Smith, a New Jersey Republican and the commission’s other co-chairman.
Is the IOC “IOC “enabling, coddling thugs?” Smith continued. “The answer is yes.”
Smith and Pelosi were among several speakers who compared the specter of a Olympics in China next winter to the 1936 Berlin Games in Hitler’s Nazi Germany.
“Today we have an opportunity and obligation to speak out,” Pelosi said. “While China has changed in 30 years, it is appalling that its human rights record has worsened. … Silence on this issue is unacceptable.”