TOPLINE The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will not pressure China over its human rights record ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Games, a senior official said on Wednesday even as several human rights groups and some U.S. lawmakers have called for a boycott of the games over the Chinese government’s treatment of Uyghurs and its crackdown on Hong Kong.
While addressing the press in Australia, IOC vice president John Coates said confronting a sovereign nation on human rights issues was not within the committee’s remit.
Coates said that IOC’s remit was only limited to ensuring that no human rights abuses take place in respect to the conduct of the Games within the national Olympic committees or “within the Olympic movement.”
He further added that the IOC has no ability to go into any country and tell them what to do and all it can do is ensure that the conditions set out in a host contract are followed.
When asked about the IOC’s decision to intervene in Afghanistan—where the body said it helped around 100 members of the “Olympic community” leave the country on humanitarian visas—Coates insisted that was within the committee’s remit.
Coates also said he did not see any point in any country boycotting the games as such moves in the past had achieved nothing.
In May, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called for a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Winter Games which means no official delegation would be sent to Beijing while athletes are still allowed to compete. Dominic Raab, the British deputy prime minister, has also indicated he will not attend the games even though his instinct is to “separate sport from diplomacy and politics.” Earlier this year, several western nations, including the U.S., U.K., Canada and the European Union, imposed sanctions on Beijing for alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang. China has been accused of detaining the region’s mostly Muslim Uighur residents in camps where they reportedly face torture, forced labor and sexual abuse according to leaked documents and satellite images. Beijing has also come under fire for its ongoing crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
By Siladitya Ray, Forbes Staff