Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), joined Rep. Chris Smith,( R-N.J.), in calling on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to relocate the 2022 Winter Olympics from China to another country, and also to ban Chinese athletes from participating.
In a letter sent on Thursday, Oct. 21, both Congressmen and leading Republicans on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) in addition to requesting the above, expressed rejection of the IOC’s previous decision to “remain neutral on all global political issues,” noting that it “has a moral obligation to reject the participation of the People’s Republic of China in the games.”
IOC Director-General Christophe De Kepper, as indicated by the congressmen in Thursday’s letter, in the face of pressure to move the Olympics to a country that did not commit genocide, said that to do so would violate the IOC’s mandate to exhibit political neutrality.
Even John Coates, IOC vice president, indicated in a statement on Wednesday, Oct. 13, that he would not pressure the Chinese regime for its record of human rights violations, stating, “But … the IOC’s remit is to ensure that there is no human rights abuses in respect of the conduct of the Games within the national Olympic committees or within the Olympic movement.”
“We have no ability to go into a country and tell them what to do. All we can do is to award the Olympics to a country, under conditions set out in a host contract … and then ensure they are followed,” he added.
On this, the lawmakers wrote: “Taking a stand against genocide is a moral decision, not a political one, and there is no exemption for the IOC when it comes to responsibility for moral decisions.”
“Moral neutrality is a contradiction in terms. What is being asked of you is to refuse to dignify the PRC authorities with the honor of hosting the Olympics Games in their capital when those same authorities are actively carrying out a genocide.,” they said in the letter.
The Olympics, scheduled to begin in February, have been experiencing an escalating backlash over the Chinese regime’s gross human rights violations in the host country.
Many of those opposed to the Olympics being held in China have called for countries to withdraw their own athletes and corporate sponsors to leave China, but not much had been heard about banning Chinese athletes from participating.
Regarding this, the letter said, “The IOC knows what needs to be done because the IOC has done it before. The IOC banned the Russian team for four years in 2019 because of doping. The IOC banned the Indian team in 2012 because of corruption issues. The IOC banned the Afghan team in 2000 in part because of the Taliban’s discrimination against women and girls. If those types of misconduct are grounds for banning a team from the Olympics, surely genocide more than warrants the same response.”
“Can the IOC say with a clear conscience that Beijing has shown due concern for “human dignity” as defined in the UDHR and the ICCPR?” the lawmakers asked in the letter.
“This certainly cannot be said with regards to Beijing’s treatment of the Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hong Kongers, Chinese Christians, Falun Gong practitioners, defense lawyers, citizen journalists, civil society activists, or democracy advocates,” the letter continued,” they continued.
Previously, on July 23, the senators had already sent a letter to the IOC, along with Massachusetts Democratic Congressman James McGovern, requesting a change of venue for the Games, arguing that “no Olympics should be held in a country whose government is committing genocide and crimes against humanity.”
“We find it unfair for the IOC to force athletes to sacrifice their conscience in order to pursue their competitive goals, or vice versa.”
Last Sunday, Oct. 17, news broke of the arrest of two female students in Greece, who attempted to raise a banner on the Acropolis in Athens, during the ceremony to light the Olympic flame in the Greek city, in protest against the IOC for allowing China to host.
“The IOC is sending the world a message that it is ok to turn a blind eye to genocide and crimes against humanity in Hong Kong, Tibet, East Turkestan and Southern Mongolia,” said one of the detained students.