IOC urged to implement human rights strategy before Beijing 2022
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) urged to immediately implement its human rights strategy, fearing the 2022 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games could turn into a “triumphant Chinese Communist spectacle in the snow “.
Human Rights Watch calls on the IOC to adopt policies that could play a key role in stopping serious human rights violations in the host country.
Beijing is set to become the first city to host the summer and winter editions of the Olympic and Paralympic Games when it hosts the Games in February next year.
The Chinese capital last hosted the Summer Olympics in 2008, but Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch, says the human rights situation has “deteriorated markedly” since then.
“China is in the midst of its worst human rights crackdown since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989,” Worden said.
“The Olympic Games are shaping up to be a triumphant Chinese Communist spectacle in the snow.
“Some of you have seen senior IOC leaders say that the Olympics are not political.
“We want someone to tell this to the Chinese government.
“For an autocracy like China, the Olympics are not just about sports, they are geopolitical events that can elevate the status of the ruling Chinese government and Communist Party at home and abroad.”
Recommendations for an IOC human rights strategy was produced by independent experts Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Rachel Davis, vice-president of Shift, a nonprofit center of expertise on business and human rights last December.
This document was commissioned by the IOC in 2019 and was developed following a consultative process with internal staff and experts.
“Our recommendation is that it be adopted immediately,” Worden said.
“If it had already been adopted, it would have given the IOC leverage and a roadmap to address human rights violations affecting Olympic preparations and coverage.
“Much of this crackdown has taken place since China won the Olympics in 2015.
“The IOC is very positive that you have started this crackdown since we gave you the Games and we want you to stop it now.”
China has been accused of using forced Uyghur labor, of carrying out a program of mass surveillance, of having detained thousands of people in internment camps, of carrying out forced sterilizations and intentionally destroy Uyghur heritage.
Beijing says the camps are training centers designed to eradicate Islamist extremism and separatism, and denies the allegations made.
Nikki Dryden, an Olympic swimmer turned human rights lawyer, said she was one of the stakeholders who helped develop the IOC’s human rights plan.
She said she wanted to see “concrete” actions from the organization six months before the opening of the Winter Olympics.
China may have secured the right to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, but that doesn’t mean it should win a medal in the propaganda. Let’s keep China’s horrific human rights record in the foreground.https: //t.co/lJyvEWT6Fp
– Human Rights Watch (@hrw) August 6, 2021
“Implement the plan now,” said Dryden.
“They have been strategically seated for a long time,
“It was finally released at the end of last year.
“If this plan was put in place, human rights due diligence would be going on in Beijing and China right now before the Olympics and I think the IOC has really failed here.
“They had a chance.
“They knew it was going to happen.
“The IOC is responsible for this situation, and I believe that until they urgently implement human rights due diligence to work with the Chinese government to advance these issues, it we have very limited time left unless we decide to move the games.
“We did it once, so why can’t we do it again.”
Dryden, who competed in Barcelona 1992, also doesn’t think China is a safe place for athletes to go for the Winter Olympics, which are due to take place Feb. 4-20 next year.
“As an athlete entering China he is expected to be safe,” said Dryden.
“If you are a Muslim athlete from any country, how safe could you feel knowing that the host country consistently targets Muslims in their own neighborhoods.
“I wouldn’t feel very safe.”