The 2022 Winter Olympic Games will be the last Olympics exempt from human rights principles being incorporated in the host city contract by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which will bind hosts to UN conventions from Paris 2024 onwards. Awarding the last Games to the Chinese Communist dictatorship was a very disappointing choice before the new contract conditions set in. Now it is a completely unsustainable choice.

 

The Communist dictatorship in China must not be allowed to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. It is one of the largest and most prestigious sporting events, bringing nations from all around the world together to compete and showcase the very best of human athleticism.

Hosting an Olympics is a prestigious honour for any country. Countries fiercely compete for the honour, for the prestige, tourism potential and international status. History reminds us how the evil national socialist regime of Hitler milked the Olympics in 1936 to provide legitimacy to his illegitimate dictatorship. We can’t let history repeat itself.

The 2022 Winter Olympic Games will be the last Olympics exempt from human rights principles being incorporated in the host city contract by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which will bind hosts to UN conventions from Paris 2024 onwards. Awarding the last Games to the Chinese Communist dictatorship was a very disappointing choice before the new contract conditions set in. Now it is a completely unsustainable choice.

China’s human rights record is not merely a poor one but a litany of deliberate, state-orchestrated, systematic abuse toward anyone deemed acting against the state’s interests. Christians, Uyghurs, Falun Gong and the Dalai Lama, or any dissident for that matter (think Hong Kongers), are persecuted with the full force of the Chinese Communist dictatorship.

It brutally directed its arm against the people of Hong Kong by the passing of the so-called National Security Act, which was a direct breach of the UN-sanctioned Sino-British Joint Declaration. This fundamental breach of the Declaration calls into question the regime’s commitment to stand by any agreement it has signed and further erodes any trust the world can have in it.

Uyghur genocide in Xinjiang, the crushing of Hong Kong’s liberties, military flights over Taiwan, forced human organ harvesting, internet and press censorship, foreign interference in multiple nations, arbitrary economic sanctions, arbitrary detention, cultural cleansing of Tibet, aggressive military action in the South China Sea, “wolf warrior” diplomacy, illegal man-made island building, economic coercion with the Belt and Road initiative debt-trap, put in stark relief the undeniable brutality of the regime.

In September last year, 160 human rights advocacy groups delivered a joint letter to the chief of the International Olympic Committee calling for Beijing to be removed as host of the Games over its actions in Hong Kong and detention of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. The letter stated that “The IOC must recognise 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.”

In 2008, it was hoped that the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing would bring continued improvements in human rights for Chinese citizens. This idea—while laudable at the time—was sorely misplaced, as is any idea that the Winter Games might bring improved human rights for Chinese citizens if the country hosts again. The 2008 games witnessed up to 50 human rights activists being arrested, placed under house arrest or being banished from Beijing, as well as strict control over all aspects of the Games that might paint China in a bad light, from increased pollution, strict media reporting, heavy-handed security or the 40 million migrant workers employed in dangerous construction jobs.

Such calls to boycott the Olympics are not without precedent. In 1980, the Moscow Summer Olympic Games were boycotted by 66 countries. Should the IOC continue with the Winter Games in China in 2022, freedom-loving countries and athletes should take it upon themselves to boycott it and not inadvertently lend their athletic credibility to, and thereby give, respectability to a tyrannical regime that desperately craves it.

While unbelievably tough on athletes who have trained and followed exceptionally disciplined routines, the chance to not compete and display their prowess against the world’s best must be considered and any viable alternatives need urgent consideration by the IOC.

India, the world’s largest democracy and a rising superpower in its own right, has the opportunity to take a strong stand for human rights. All the gold medals in the world are not worth giving legitimacy to the Chinese Communist Party, which will relentlessly abuse these Games as propaganda for its dictatorship.

Eric Abetz is an Australian Senator, a member of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China and Chair of the Australian Senate’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade.