(TibetanReview.net, Feb04’22) – On the eve of China’s opening of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics on its own terms, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) unable or unwilling to make human rights an issue of concern in the events’ conduct, several hundred Tibetans staged a protest in front of the global sporting body’s headquarter in Lausanne, Switzerland. They accused the IOC of complicity in “atrocities” committed against ethnic minorities in the People’s Republic of China.
A protest letter signed by Tibetan community leaders from Austria, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and Liechtenstein and submitted through the security staff, accused the IOC of failing to carry out human rights due diligence in organizing the Beijing Games.
The letter asked the IOC to issue a public statement, acknowledging that the “Winter Olympics-2022 is taking place amid atrocities and genocide by the Chinese government”. It further urged the IOC to “respect and take the voices of victims of human rights abuses by China into account for any future activities”.
In Beijing, however, IOC President Thomas Bach decried boycott ghosts “rearing their ugly heads again” over human rights concerns, reported Reuters Feb 3.
Calling the 2022 Winter Olympics “Genocide Games”, the protesters, joined by Uyghurs, marched from the IOC headquarter to the Olympic Museum.
The marchers – many wrapped in the red, yellow and blue flag of Tibet and dressed in traditional robes – chanted and played drums, holding a minute of silence for their “martyrs” before starting a “peace march” along Lake Geneva.
“Beijing Olympics, Genocide Games”, “Tibet is burning” and “Long live Dalai Lama” were some of the slogans the marchers were heard chanting, said the Reuters report.
The placards carried by the protesters included calls such as “Save Tibet” and “No More Bloody Games,” reported the AP Feb 3.
Poland and Luxembourg were the only EU countries expected to send top VIPs to Beijing’s Olympics, as Russia and China use the games to forge closer ties, noted the euobserver.com Feb 4.
Publicly, only a handful of EU states – the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, and the Netherlands – have confirmed they were boycotting the ceremony on human rights grounds, along with Australia, Canada, Japan, the UK, and the US, the report noted.
Reuters Feb 4 cited British freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy as urging the IOC not to allow countries that have “appalling human rights stances” to host the Games, And he has questioned China’s suitability to stage the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Kenworthy, who claimed a silver medal in slopestyle at Sochi in 2014 for Team USA before switching allegiance to Britain in 2019, was earlier reported to have told the BBC, “I don’t think any country should be allowed to host the Games if they have appalling human rights stances.”
“The IOC should take a stance against a lot of these atrocities and stand up for important issues and by not granting those countries the right to host the Games, they could create positive change… maybe not even letting them compete,” Kenworthy has said.