To Boycott or Not to Boycott: Congress Considers China Olympic Games Attendance Amid Uyghur Abuses

To Boycott or Not to Boycott: Congress Considers China Olympic Games Attendance Amid Uyghur Abuses To Boycott or Not to Boycott: Congress Considers China Olympic Games Attendance Amid Uyghur Abuses People wear protective masks as they walk front the logos of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in Beijing, China. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

By Jim Thomas | Thursday, 13 May 2021 04:45 PM

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) is asking Congress to not boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing over China’s treatment of the country’s Uyghur Muslim population, reported the Hill.

Chinese Communist Party officials and other government entities have been sanctioned by the Biden administration for persecution of the Uyghur's and for other human rights violations in Xinjiang province. In Xinjiang, home to the Uyghur population, there have been reports of forced sterilization, arbitrary detention along with reports of torture and rape, reported the Hill.

GOP Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, was the first to suggest the idea of an economic and diplomatic boycott of the games in March, though the White House and State Department have both said officials are not considering such a move.

Late last month, Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., said that he supported a “diplomatic boycott” of the 2022 Winter Olympics to signal that U.S. leaders “highly disapprove, we abhor and condemn the slavery conditions in which they require Uyghur Muslims to work; we condemn the executions and forced abortions that they are involved in; we condemn the snatching of territory and occupation of disputed lands on and on and on,” reported the Hill.

Sarah Hirshland, CEO of the USOPC, wrote in a letter to members of Congress obtained by Politico that the committee is also “troubled by the situation in China,” adding that it “does not condone actions that undermine the core values of the Olympic movement—values that include diversity, peace, and respect for human dignity.”

Meanwhile, Hirshland argued in Wednesday's letter that “an athlete boycott of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is not the solution to geopolitical issues,” while acknowledging that Olympic boycotts “do not have an encouraging history,” citing the 1980 Olympic Summer Games in Moscow, when the U.S. government pushed for an athlete boycott over the Soviet Union’s presence in Afghanistan.

“As a result, 461 American athletes—the balance of them teenagers and college students representing almost every U.S. state—qualified to compete in Moscow only to have the opportunity taken from them,” the CEO wrote. “Many never had the chance to compete at the Olympic Games again.”

Hirshland then cited a recent Morning Consult poll that indicated approximately two-thirds of Americans opposed a boycott of the Beijing Games, and added that “the Olympic and Paralympic Games can help to raise awareness of critical human rights issues.”

“The Olympic and Paralympic Games are a chance for the United States to showcase the values that make our country strong and respected: Our belief in fair competition; our commitment to the dignity of all people; and our support of the hard work and lifelong commitment of athletes from every state in the nation," she wrote.

Hirshland implored, "a new generation of Winter Olympians and Paralympians are hard at work preparing to represent America in Beijing in 2022. Please give them that chance. They do not deserve to train for the games under a cloud of uncertainty about American participation in the games. Instead, we ought to show them our support and our appreciation—at a time of great difficulty, they have trained hard and sacrificed much.”

Citizens for the Republic (CTFR) the committee founded by President Ronald Reagan which supports the boycott and told Newsmax that it urged Congress Thursday to ignore the pleas of the U.S. Olympic Committee and boycott the Beijing games.

“We’re so reassured to hear the Olympic Committee is troubled by Uyghurs being stuffed into concentration camps and used for forced labor. That said, our advice to Congress is to IGNORE (Hirshland’s) letter and immediately announce a boycott of the games,” CFTR said.