International Trade Union Confederation Releases Report Challenging China’s Hosting of 2022 Winter Olympics

A global trade union body joined a long list of human rights defenders to challenge China’s merits in hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics, and nominated the International Olympic Committee to have acquiesced in the face of alleged genocide and crimes against humanity allegations. in the host country.

The Belgium-based International Trade Union Confederation on Tuesday released its report – “China: A Gold Medal for Repression” – highlighting human rights violations. He said a copy had been sent to IOC President Thomas Bach.

The alleged abuses include: forced labor, the imprisonment of trade unionists and democracy advocates in Hong Kong, the intimidation of the country’s LBGTI community and the crackdown on ethnic and religious minorities under the pretext of “anti-separatism and counterterrorism “.

“We are trying to get the IOC to act on a set of basic principles around human rights,” Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary, told The Associated Press in an interview.

“We want governments to take a stand to defend the safety of their own athletes, and we want sponsors to really re-examine their association with the Beijing Winter Olympics,” she added. “You have big companies supporting these Olympics that really should live up to the values ​​they say they uphold, which are basic human rights.”

Some of the biggest sponsors who collectively pay the IOC billions include well-known names like Coca-Cola, Airbnb, Visa, Toyota, Alibaba, and Proctor & Gamble.

The ITUC report comes just under three months before the Olympics opens on February 4. There have been repeated calls for a boycott, with targeted sponsors and broadcasters, and demands for the IOC to move the Games out of China. Protesters were also arrested during a torch-lighting ceremony last month in Greece.

Burrow, who grew up in Australia, referred to the position of fellow Australian John Coates, the influential IOC Vice President and a powerful ally of Bach.

“John always puts the Olympics ahead of human rights,” Burrow said. “But we hope that people like John and many others around the world who live in democratic countries will understand that it is not okay to just treat China like another nation.… China cannot just operate. in the global economy without responding to the crimes they commit People matter People have rights.

Previous openings have been from Chinese activists and organizers who are currently holding test events for the Games.

Enes Kanter, an NBA Boston Celtics center, was one of the few athletes to speak out against human rights abuses in China, the Olympics, and the internment of at least 1 million Muslim Uyghurs and others. ethnic minorities in western China.

Kanter, a Muslim with roots in Turkey, called Chinese leader Xi Jinping a “brutal dictator” and criticized human rights in much of China.

The Celtics’ games were then withdrawn from Chinese media, a blow to the NBA, which derives millions in revenue from China.

Using the pandemic as a justification, organizers and the IOC plan to implement a zero-tolerance COVID-19 policy that will also stifle unhindered access to media during the Olympics.

Participants in Beijing will need to be vaccinated to enter – or quarantined for 21 days – and undergo daily testing. Journalists will be locked in a “closed loop” which will limit travel. The measures will be more stringent than protocols for the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics, which allowed free movement across the country after a 14-day quarantine period.

Last week, the Chinese Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Beijing released a list of 31 points of concern regarding media access to the Games.

“Over the past year, the foreign press has been continuously hampered in its coverage of the preparations for the Olympic Winter Games, refused to participate in routine events, and have been barred from visiting sports venues in China. .. Such behavior does not respect the IOC’s own Olympic objectives. Charter, in which Rule 48 requires the committee to take “all necessary measures to ensure the most complete coverage by the various media and the most public. wide possible in the world for the Games “.

The United States government responded to the statement.

“We urge PRC officials not to restrict the freedom of movement and access of journalists, and to ensure that they remain safe and can report freely, including at the Olympics and Paralympics,” State Department spokesman Nick Price said in a scheduled briefing. .

Several US senators led by former presidential candidate Mitt Romney have proposed a diplomatic boycott by the United States that would allow American athletes to attend but not U.S. government employees.

Even without a boycott, restrictions related to COVID-19 will significantly limit who enters China.

Faced with criticism for hosting the Games in China, the IOC says its only business is sport, not politics. The IOC has an observer seat at the United Nations.

Bach praised his efforts to bring the two Koreas together at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Earlier this year, he traveled to Hiroshima, using the bombed-out city to bind the IOC to world peace. His supporters often speak of Bach as a candidate for the Nobel Prize.

Bach said the Olympics should be “neutral ground”, although the Olympic Charter also states that the aim is to promote a “peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity”.

Largely unhindered promises of access were reluctantly granted by China for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, under pressure from the IOC. It’s different 180 degrees this time.

“In 2022, she (China) doesn’t really care what the rest of the world thinks about it,” Chinese sports historian Xu Guoqi told AP in a recent interview.

“Now he’s doing his best to tell the world about his intentions. If the world won’t listen, so be it.”