The 2022 Winter Olympics are coming up fast, and with the postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympics to 2021, we’re in for two Olympic games within 7 months of each other! Unfortunately, there has been a lot of backlash regarding the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing due to the awful Human Rights violations recently perpetrated by the Chinese Government. Calls for protests and boycotts of the Olympic Games have happened many times over the years, and it is extremely unlikely the United States will actually not send athletes to compete, but there is definitely a way to handle these Games that will not sweep away the environmental and human rights struggles that are occurring in China at the moment. For those who don’t know, China has been under fire for a variety of different things for basically as long as I can remember, but recently the Chinese Government has been committing Human Rights Violations against Muslim Uyghurs, Tibetans, and other minorities in China. Reports detail awful stories of family separation, abuse, torture, forced labor, sterilization, rape, and more. Uyghurs who have so far avoided detainment are still subject to mass surveillance and are restricted in their ability to travel and practice their religion. An estimated 1-2 Million citizens have been affected by these actions. The United States and many other countries around the world have formally declared it an act of genocide, and so the question is being asked, why would we allow a country that is committing genocide to reap the benefits of hosting an Olympic Games?
Although a government-sanctioned genocide seems like the ultimate reason to boycott an Olympic Games and not indirectly give money to the regime through tourism and travel, it would still be a big surprise to me if the U.S. boycotted the 2022 Winter Olympics. Calls for boycotts often fizzle out before the opening ceremony, for example in 2014 there were calls to boycott the Sochi Olympics due to Russia’s anti-LGBT policies but everyone still attended. Senator Mitt Romney has called for a partial boycott where only the athletes attend, the networks place disclaimers and raise awareness for the events taking place in China, and businesses pull their sponsorships. This is probably the most realistic scenario for what will happen. As much as the United States claims to care about human rights violations and genocides, we want to see our sports more. Companies reap HUGE financial benefits from sponsorships during the Games, and that amount of money is not something they will give up easily. There is also the argument that the athletes have been working their entire lives for these moments so they shouldn’t have to pay the price for another country’s sins.
I personally think that it would send a big message to China if several Western countries back out of the Olympics, but I also know that realistically it would have a giant world impact on trade, and relations with China. The Chinese government is known for its censorship of people who speak out against it, from athletes to politicians, and a boycott and protest would probably do little to force the Chinese government to end their genocide. I just hope that when the Olympics come on next winter, you can’t watch a single event without some reminder implemented about the crimes of the Chinese Government.
By Andrew Kolar