China: Repression Threatens Winter Olympics

By Eurasia Review
The Chinese government’s heightened repression from Xinjiang to Hong Kong threatens its hosting of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach. The Beijing Winter Olympics are scheduled to begin on February 4, 2022.

Human Rights Watch detailed extensive concerns about the human rights climate for hosting the games in China. These include the lack of media and internet freedom, the incarceration of more than a million Turkic Muslims in “political education” camps in Xinjiang, the lack of transparency in labor supply chains, and increasing free speech restrictions in Hong Kong. The IOC should immediately conduct robust human rights due diligence around the preparations for the 2022 Beijing Olympics and explain its efforts to manage human rights risks connected to the Games by February 2021, one year ahead of the games.

“The Chinese government’s intensifying crackdown undermines the basic rights that are essential to hosting the Olympics,” said Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch. “By the start of the one-year clock in February, the IOC needs to explain how human rights protections will be met.”

Earlier in December 2020, the International Olympic Committee published its expert report “Recommendations for an IOC Human Rights Strategy,” an important roadmap for adopting human rights across its operations. Human Rights Watch recommended that the IOC should immediately conduct and publish thorough human rights due diligence around the preparations for the 2022 Beijing Olympics and explain how it plans to address the human rights risks connected to the Games by February 2021, one year ahead of the games. Such action would be consistent with the steps set out in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the “Guiding Principles”), and with the IOC’s ongoing work to build a strategic framework on human rights.

Human Rights Watch has extensively documented serious human rights abuses in China, and that the human rights environment has deteriorated significantly since the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

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