Saturday April 10th, 2021 8:14AM

EXPLAINER: Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and some options

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

The U.S. State Department says it's talking with allies about China's human rights record and how to handle next year's Beijing Winter Olympics.

A department spokesman on Tuesday suggested that an Olympic boycott to protest China’s rights abuses was among the possibilities. But a senior official said later that a boycott has not yet been discussed.

Human rights groups are protesting China’s hosting of the games, which open on Feb. 4, 2022. They have urged a diplomatic or straight-up boycott to call attention to alleged Chinese abuses against Uyghurs, Tibetans and residents of Hong Kong.

Activists are also reaching out to national Olympic committees, athletes and sponsors after failing to get the Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee to move the games out of China.

Beijing is the first city to win the right to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics. The 2008 Beijing Olympics were held with the hope of improving human rights in the country.


President Thomas Bach says the IOC must stay out of politics, although it holds observer status at the United Nations and Bach has touted his own efforts to unite the two Koreas at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

“We are not a super-world government where the IOC could solve or even address issues for which not the U.N. security council, no G7, no G20 has solutions,” Bach told a news conference last month. He has repeated the IOC must stay “neutral.”

China says “political motives” underlie any boycott effort.

“China firmly rejects the politicization of sports and opposes using human rights issues to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in March. He said an effort at a boycott “is doomed to failure.”


Activists met late last year with the IOC and asked for the 2022 Olympics be moved. They also asked to see documents the IOC says it has in which China gave “assurances” about human rights conditions. Activists say the IOC has not produced the documents. The virtual meeting was headed by IOC member Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., who oversees preparations for Beijing. His father was the long-time IOC president.

“We felt like the IOC were having a meeting with us, more so that they could say they were having a meeting with us rather than because they actually wanted to listen and act on anything that we had to say,” Gloria Montgomery, campaigns coordinator at the International Tibet Network, said in a recent briefing with other activists.

Frances Hui, director at We The Hongkongers, suggested there was a condescending tone from the IOC in the meeting.

“The first thing we heard is: ‘It’s a very complicated world.’ And I asked again: How are you going to legitimatize a games that’s based in a country practicing genocide and murdering? Again the reply to me was it’s a complex world.”


Activists are talking about softer forms of a boycott, but have not ruled out the kind of boycott led by the United States in the 1980 Moscow Olympics; 65 countries stayed away, including China, and 80 participated.

“I think a diplomatic boycott would be very much welcomed by all of our communities. We have been looking towards accountability, and that is definitely part of that path toward accountability,” said Zumretay Arkin, spokeswoman for the World Uyghur Congress.

“Of course the athletes, it’s unfair to them. But athletes also have a conscience, an opinion of their own,” she added.


Bach, who won a gold medal in fencing in the 1976 Games, was deprived of going to Moscow in 1980 as a member of the West German team. He opposes a boycott, which would also severely hurt the IOC's finances and its image.

The IOC earns 91% of its revenue from selling broadcast rights and sponsorships and has seen its income stalled by the postponed Tokyo Olympics.

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee has also questioned the effectiveness of boycotts.

But it's one of the few leverage points activists have.

“Before we called for a boycott, we hoped that the IOC could strip China of hosting the Olympics, but they didn’t want to do that,” said Teng Biao, an exiled Chinese human-rights lawyer and activist. “I think the Olympics is a thing the Beijing government cares very much about. We should not give up that chance.”

Teng also welcomed athletes and other participants to protest if the Olympics take place — with social media posts, by wearing descriptive T-shirts, or by skipping the opening ceremony.

“In terms of the people in Tibet, Uyghurs, Chinese people living in China, I don’t encourage them to protest because the Chinese government has been increasingly brutal. I don’t want them to take a risk to protest during the Olympics,” Teng said.

Several activists cautioned that even athletes and other participants from abroad could be arrested in China under a far-reaching national security law.

“When we call for a boycott, it has to be a coordinated boycott led by democratic countries who are now accepting that the genocide is happening,” said Dorjee Tseten, executive director at Students for a Free Tibet. “If we don’t stand now, it will be impossible to make China accountable.”


AP Olympics: and

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Business
© Copyright 2021
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Japan's Toshiba studies acquisition proposal by global fund
Japan's Toshiba Corp. says it is carefully considering a preliminary acquisition proposal
2:54AM ( 6 minutes ago )
A paper cowboy rides out his quarantine in Australian hotel
By Day 3 of being confined to his Brisbane hotel room for quarantine, David Marriott was getting bored
2:42AM ( 17 minutes ago )
The home of the Masters is a draw for basketball's best, too
It was April 7, 2003
2:33AM ( 26 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Asia Today: North Korea tells WHO it's still virus-free
North Korea has continued to claim a perfect record in keeping out the coronavirus in its latest report to the World Health Organization
12:48AM ( 2 hours ago )
Indonesia landslides death toll rises to 119, dozens missing
The death toll from mudslides in eastern Indonesia has risen to 119 with scores still missing as rain continued to pound the region and hamper the search
12:28AM ( 2 hours ago )
Senate gives Biden a big tool to work around GOP filibuster
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has fresh options for advancing President Joe Biden’s priorities over Republican obstruction in the 50-50 split Senate
12:11AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
Minneapolis officers line up to reject Chauvin's actions
The parade of Minneapolis police officers rejecting a former officer’s actions in restraining George Floyd is continuing at his murder trial
11:49PM ( 3 hours ago )
Arkansas lawmakers enact transgender youth treatment ban
Arkansas lawmakers have made the state the first to ban gender confirming treatments and surgery for transgender youth, enacting the prohibition over the governor’s objections
11:29PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Interview: India could resume vaccine exports by June
The world’s largest vaccine maker, based in India, will be able to restart exports of AstraZeneca doses by June if new coronavirus infections subside in the country, its chief executive says
8:20PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Asian stocks mixed after lackluster day on Wall Street
Asian shares are mixed after Wall Street took a breather, with major indexes edging lower
11:52PM ( 3 hours ago )
eBay auction of Japanese internment art pulled after protest
The auction of a series of sketches purportedly drawn by an artist at the Japanese internment camp at Manzanar has been canceled after groups protested it was offensive and immoral to profit off the misery of incarcerated people
9:13PM ( 5 hours ago )
Tanzania's new president changes policy on COVID-19, media
Tanzania’s new president appears to be taking a new, scientific approach to combat the COVID-19 pandemic
8:27PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Business
Japan's Toshiba studies acquisition proposal by global fund
Japan's Toshiba Corp. says it is carefully considering a preliminary acquisition proposal
2:54AM ( 6 minutes ago )
A paper cowboy rides out his quarantine in Australian hotel
By Day 3 of being confined to his Brisbane hotel room for quarantine, David Marriott was getting bored
2:42AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Iran state TV acknowledges ship attacked in Red Sea
An Iranian cargo ship believed to be a base for the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard anchored for years in the Red Sea off Yemen has been attacked
2:31AM ( 28 minutes ago )
Kershaw bounces back, Dodgers beat winless A's 5-1
Clayton Kershaw struck out eight in seven smooth innings to send the Athletics to their worst start in more than a century, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat winless Oakland 5-1 for their fifth straight victory
1:34AM ( 1 hour ago )