ESPN Guest Equivocates US 'Voting Rights' to China's Genocide of Uighurs
Chinese torchbearer athletes Dinigeer Yilamujian, a Uyghur, (L) and Zhao Jiawen hold the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, at the National Stadium, known as the Bird's Nest, in Beijing, on February 4, 2022. (Ben Stansall / AFP via Getty)
By Nick Koutsobinas | Saturday, 05 February 2022 11:13 AM
A guest on ESPN's "Around the Horn" on Saturday drew parallels between the United States' current "voting rights" abuses and the genocide of the Uighurs Muslims in China.
During the sports broadcast show, host Tony Reali asked the director of sports journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, J.A. Adande, "As a fan and as a reporter, how do you reconcile enjoying" the Winter Olympics while considering China had a Uighur Muslim light the torch for the opening ceremony.
Adande responded, "I think it's standard in sports right now … you have to have a cognitive dissonance. You need to compartmentalize. We've never had a more enjoyable NFL Playoffs in this country and we've never had more people watching the playoffs, and yet it goes on amid the ongoing allegations against Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Football Team, and, you know, the continuous concussion concerns, and now the concerns about diversity in the allegations and questions about competitive integrity even, all of that, and yet we're still enjoying the games."
"And who are we to criticize China's human rights records when we have ongoing attacks by the agents of the state against unarmed citizens and we've got assaults on the voting rights of our people of color in various states in this country," he added. "So sports – I think it is possible and it's necessary more than ever to just shut everything out if you are to enjoy the actual games themselves."
Reali said he "appreciates" Adande's comment but pressed him further, specifically about how "sports can conquer" concerns of "human rights."
"Well, again," Adande adds, "where can you choose that's free?"
"And look at some of the other recent hosts of the games including Russia and some other recent places. It's very hard to find a country that isn't problematic when it comes to human rights, including here."
"I think we can bring attention to it. I think its notable that we did have a Uyghur participant lighting the torch and hopefully this will be used to bring attention to it rather than to continue to place these issues [inaudible]."