Human rights activists ask International Olympic Committee to not hold 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing

At least 160 human rights activists signed a letter calling for International Olympic Committee (IOC) to reverse its decision to hold the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, citing allegations of widespread rights abuses by the Chinese government.

The letter addressed to the IOC president Thomas Bach said that the actions of the Chinese central government in Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong and Inner Mongolia showed the country was unworthy to host the Winter Olympics.

“The IOC’s reputation was indelibly tarnished by its mistaken belief that the 2008 (Beijing Summer) Olympics would work to improve China’s human rights record. In reality the prestige of hosting the Olympic Games merely emboldened the Chinese government’s actions,” the letter said.

“We implore the Committee to reverse its past mistakes and to urgently demonstrate that it has the political will to abide by the Olympic Charter’s core principles about ‘human dignity.’ The IOC must not allow its moral authority to be put in jeopardy again.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian called the letter an attempt to “politicize” sports.

In a response on the letter, IOC said that they remained neutral on political issues, and that awarding the Olympic Games “does not mean that the IOC agrees with the political structure, social circumstances or human rights standards in its country.”

The IOC said in 2017 that it would add human rights, anti-corruption and sustainable development clauses to Olympic Host City contracts in the future, beginning with the 2024 Summer Games.

Calls to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics have become increasingly mainstream, with US Democratic presidential candidates asked about whether the US should send a team to the upcoming Games during a debate in December 2019.