The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will not press China, the host of the 2022 Winter Olympics, on its human rights record, a senior IOC member said Wednesday, Oct. 13.

John Coates, IOC vice president, rejected suggestions and calls from human rights groups and U.S. officials that China should be challenged for its severe persecution of ethnic and religious minorities.

They also urge the IOC to postpone the 2022 games and change the venue unless the Chinese communist regime stops what is considered genocide against these minority groups.

However, as reported by Australia’s ABC News, when Coates was asked about this at a press conference, Coates said that while “the IOC places great emphasis on human rights,” the body has no mandate to act.

“I know it’s a very important part of the fundamental principles of Olympism, the fundamental principles set out in the Olympic charter,” he added.

“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,” Coates argued to reporters at the National Press Club of Australia.

But based on these statements, he was questioned why the IOC then intervened in Afghanistan, where the Games were not being held. He recounted helping some 100 members of the “Olympic community” in Afghanistan leave the country on humanitarian visas after the Taliban took control.

To this, Coates replied, “The job the IOC is doing is to protect Olympic athletes and those involved in Olympic moments … Those who make up the sports federations in Afghanistan.”

“That’s within our remit. The situations that you have referred to—the humanitarian ones in China— is not within our remit.”

Meanwhile, as usual, Beijing denies all accusations of genocide against it and has accused U.S. politicians of “politicizing sports” and defaming China.

Human rights groups and independent researchers have suggested that at least one million Uighurs and members of other minorities, including practitioners of the Falun Dafa spiritual discipline, are being brutally persecuted and imprisoned.

Most are used for forced labor, and many reportedly have their organs removed while alive to support the Chinese regime’s macabre million-dollar organ-selling business. 

Jules Boykoff, a former Olympic athlete and professor of political science at the University of the Pacific in the U.S. told Al Jazeera that Coates’ statements on Wednesday account for the double yardstick by which the IOC measures ethical behavior.

“On one hand, it is the all-powerful entity that can choose where to place the games. On the other hand, it acts as if it cannot do anything,” the former athlete said, asserting that the reason for this is money. “They need to keep that money flowing to Olympic coffers,” Boykoff said.

Sign up to receive our latest news!

  • SMS / PHONE

    By submitting this form, I agree to the terms.