The Democratic President of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, called on Tuesday for a “diplomatic boycott” of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, with the aim of denouncing human rights violations in China.
At a time when there are calls in the United States to boycott the Olympic Games, Pelosi said during a hearing dedicated to human rights and China: “We cannot pretend that everything is fine with the organization of the Olympic Games in China.”
Pelosi added, “Unfortunately, we are here because China continues to crush political opposition,” arguing that the United States must “condemn human rights violations in China.”
“Let us do a diplomatic boycott if the Olympic Games are held … Let us not give the Chinese government the honor to receive heads of state,” she said.
She added that the presence of world leaders in China “while the genocide is under way … raises a question: What moral authority will you have to talk about human rights everywhere in the world?”
Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Games.
During this session, human rights activists denounced the oppression of Uyghur Muslims in the Chinese region of Xinjiang and political opponents in Hong Kong.
Samuel Shaw of the Democratic Council of Hong Kong, the US-based organization, said that organizing the Olympics gives repressive regimes an opportunity to “erase their crimes, improve their image abroad and strengthen their alliances.”
He called on the International Olympic Committee to “do what it did not do and refused to do in the past, which is to permanently prevent China from participating in major events and from organizing them altogether.”
Rehan Assat, who is a Uyghur descendant and his brother is currently held in a concentration camp, said that support for the 2022 Olympic Games “suggests that we deny the suffering of the Uyghur people.”
For her part, the Director-General of the American Olympic Committee, Sarah Herschland, called for not to boycott the Olympics, explaining that it is important in the circumstances of the end of the Covid-19 epidemic.
In a letter to the committee, she emphasized that “the world has spent more than a year isolated and anxious,” stressing that seeing “thousands of athletes coming from all over the world in front of the Olympic torch will be the moment of rebirth after the difficulties of last year.”
She added, “We are concerned about the situation in China,” but said that boycotting a sporting event “is not the solution to geopolitical problems.”
“Boycotting the 1980 and 1984 Olympics created a stain in the history of the Olympic Games and revealed that using the Games as a political tool is wrong,” Hersland said.