Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) has introduced a resolution that requires the U.S. to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics if they remain in Beijing, China. The only previous U.S. boycott of the worldwide competition was for the 1980 Simmer Olympics, when the Soviet Union failed to withdraw from Afghanistan by the deadline set by President Jimmy Carter. Fellow Floridian Sen. Rick Scott introduced a similar resolution in the Senate with the support of six Republican colleagues last month. Scott has been calling for the Winter Games to be moved for over a year.
According to Fox News, the resolution cites China’s human rights abuses as the reason the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) should propose to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that the games move out of China. If the IOC rejects their proposal, the resolution calls for the USOC and other allied nations to withdraw from the Winter Olympics. This request is a tall order, as the games begin in just under 12 months. The IOC awarded the Winter Games to Beijing in July 2015, and most countries spend years developing sports complexes, accommodations, and infrastructure to support the international event.
Waltz’s resolution focuses on the Chinese Communist Party, not the Chinese people, many of whom are being brutalized. He notes that other authoritarian regimes have been emboldened by the legitimacy that hosting the Olympics provides. Waltz cites the Nazi regime in Berlin following the Summer Olympic Games in 1936 and Vladimir Putin following the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He told Fox:
“Think about what we’ve gone through in the last year as a country – what it is doing to our children, to our elderly, to our families in terms of the coronavirus,” Waltz, told Fox News, saying it is “indisputable at this point that the Chinese Communist Party covered” the virus up.
“So you have that, on top of, what is increasingly coming to light a genocide – forced labor, internment. To see the American flag and to see American athletes in Beijing celebrating what is the worst of the worst authoritarian regimes right now – I can’t imagine it. It makes me sick to think of the Olympics – in just 11 months – being celebrated in Beijing after all of that.”
Legislators in the U.S. join a coalition of more than 180 human rights groups that are also calling for a boycott. Some have ties to ethnic minorities in Tibet, Taiwan, Inner Mongolia, and Uighur Muslims. Groups that support Hong Kong are also involved. Their open letter stated:
The IOC [ International Olympic Committee] refused to listen in 2008, defending its decision with claims that they would prove to be a catalyst for improved human rights. As human rights experts predicted, this decision proved to be hugely misplaced; not only did China’s human rights record not improve but violations increased substantially without rebuke.
Now, in 2021, we find ourselves back in the same position with the IOC who are refusing to act despite the clear evidence of genocide and widespread and worsening human rights failures.
The idea that continuing to treat China and the CCP as a normal nation will encourage them to behave more democratically should be dead in the water by now. A majority of Americans want the U.S. to prioritize human rights in dealing with China rather than economics. However, the Biden administration has reportedly responded that while they are disturbed by reports from China, they have no intention of boycotting the Beijing Olympics.
Editor of the CCP state-media-affiliated Global Times tweeted that there would be consequences for a boycott:
Boycotting 2022 Beijing Winter Games, an unpopular idea, won’t receive wide support. IOC and athletes will both oppose it, and China will seriously sanction any country that follows such a call. pic.twitter.com/3cOSb2wMdS
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) February 7, 2021
America used to be a leader in addressing human rights around the world. Now we have corporations that refuse to eliminate slave labor from their supply chains and movie studios that thank the leaders of the province where genocide is occurring. And it doesn’t appear the Biden administration will be stepping up in this case.