TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Representatives from 10 national legislatures and the European Parliament have announced initiatives aimed at opposing the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, including calls for a boycott or new host country, over China's human rights violations.
The lawmakers, who are all members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), are taking aim at the quadrennial event in several ways. U.S Representatives Tom Malinowski and Mike Gallagher have submitted to Congress a bipartisan resolution to call on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to start an "emergency search process" to select a new host of next year's Games, while Italian Senator Lucio Malan announced a motion to ask broadcasters covering them to devote air time to discussions about human rights violations in the East Asian country.
Meanwhile, representatives in the Swiss, German, Canadian, Czech, Swedish, Danish, and Lithuanian legislatures have or intend to put forward proposals to encourage officials from their respective governments to spurn the Olympics. Member of European Parliament Engin Eroglu of Germany has asked the European Council to do the same, in addition to advising European enterprises on whether to pull their sponsorship.
Upwards of 1 million Uyghurs and other minorities are believed to have been interned in concentration camps in Xinjiang, which Chinese authorities claim are vocational training centers aimed at curbing terrorism. Reports and victims' testimonials have painted a picture of widespread abuses in the western region, including torture, rape, sterilization, and forced labor. The Trump and Biden White Houses and Canadian and Dutch parliaments have declared the situation to be a genocide.
As the issue drew more coverage over the past year, calls increased for the IOC to seek out a new host country.
The committee's president, Thomas Bach, told AP earlier that the committee is apolitical, not a "super world government." He stressed that the committee will only address human rights issues that are within its scope.
On Monday (June 7), the IPAC issued a call to action, urging politicians to boycott the Winter Olympics and for companies to withdraw financial support.
While its statement acknowledged the IOC's need to maintain political neutrality, it said the committee cannot "turn a blind eye to industrial-scale human rights abuses," citing Beijing's suppression of the Muslim Uyghurs, Tibetans, and other minority groups and the crackdown on freedoms in Hong Kong.
The clamor over the Winter Games is attracting a growing number of high-profile public figures to the cause. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said in a Congressional hearing last month that for world leaders to attend during a genocide "really begs the question what moral authority do you have to speak again about human rights any place in the world."
Heads of states have so far remained cool on the idea, however, with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying it was not the U.K.'s habit to engage in boycotts.