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The IOC ought to cease mendacity to itself in regards to the Beijing Olympics

With the Tokyo Olympics wrapping up, the Beijing Winter Olympics are only a year away thanks to the COVID-19 delay. That cannot be glossed over: the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Olympic athletes become de facto accomplices of police brutality when they take part in the Olympic Games in Beijing. The holding of the 2022 Olympics in Beijing not only condones ongoing genocide, but also encourages further oppression of some of China’s most oppressed populations.

The IOC’s complicity in supporting authoritarian regimes goes back a long way – and the last Olympic Games in Beijing were controversial enough. The 2008 Summer Olympics began just months after the 49th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan Uprising, which took place every March to mark a major Tibetan revolt against the Chinese occupation. In 2008, spurred on by the Olympic Games, a spring protest became the largest and longest Tibetan protest in 20 years.

With the Tokyo Olympics wrapping up, the Beijing Winter Olympics are only a year away thanks to the COVID-19 delay. That cannot be glossed over: the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Olympic athletes become de facto accomplices of police brutality when they take part in the Olympic Games in Beijing. The holding of the 2022 Olympics in Beijing not only condones ongoing genocide, but also encourages further oppression of some of China’s most oppressed populations.

The IOC’s complicity in supporting authoritarian regimes goes back a long way – and the last Olympic Games in Beijing were controversial enough. The 2008 Summer Olympics began just months after the 49th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan Uprising, which took place every March to mark a major Tibetan revolt against the Chinese occupation. In 2008, spurred on by the Olympic Games, a spring protest became the largest and longest Tibetan protest in 20 years.

The 2008 protests escalated when Chinese officials arrested more than 50 protesting monks in Lhasa and other monks later protested the abuse of the arrested monks. The police beat the peacefully protesting monks, which sparked a riot in the area. Tibetans set fire to a police car and a Chinese shop. Witnesses report that Chinese officials shot many Tibetans in retaliation. An estimated 100 Tibetans were killed. It is no coincidence that the violent response by the Chinese police came from public relations concerns for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, which are due to begin a few months later in August.

The international community became aware of this. Many voices called for a boycott. However, IOC officials like Denis Oswald were reluctant to accept the idea, claiming that China needs patience to become a freer society. The European Union and the Dalai Lama also rejected the boycott; both hoped that the 2008 Beijing Olympics could possibly be used to get China to commit to more dialogue on human rights. While US President George Bush attended the opening ceremony, other world leaders such as Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Czech President Vaclav Klaus and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown waived the opening ceremony.

Today, the idea that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is voluntarily committed to other rights seems ridiculously naïve – and the Olympics themselves are likely an excuse to intensify the repression.

One manifestation of this will be security. After the attack by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, every country hosting the Olympics has good reason to protect itself from terrorism. But terror alarms from China should be viewed with suspicion as the CCP considers minor transgressions by Tibetans and Uyghurs to be serious crimes.

Beijing, for example, justified additional security measures for the 2008 Olympic Games with protection against attacks by the Islamic Movement East Turkestan, a suspected Uighur terror organization whose existence has largely been exposed. Security measures also targeted Uyghur access to mosques and non-religious Uighur institutions. Tibetans also reported arbitrary arrests and deportations. Some journalists and allegedly sanctioned protesters have been arbitrarily arrested and abused to maintain order and increase intimidation.

Preventive security measures and the escalation of intimidation are the norm for almost every major national event in China. Certainly preventive security is a norm in other countries, but the scale and intensity in China are difficult to match, and Chinese security has become increasingly repressive over the years. Thousands of social media posts questioning the party narrative will be deleted from the internet forums ahead of the national celebrations in the name of “social stability management”. In the days leading up to the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Beijing is overshadowed by checkpoints and road closures, and the few foreign journalists remaining in the country are denied access to controversial events.

That summer, busloads of People’s Liberation Army soldiers forced dissidents from Beijing and conducted door-to-door inspections of the houses ahead of the CCP’s centenary. In April, in preparation for the celebration, a public hotline was officially set up to report on those questioning the party’s official narrative – also known as historical nihilism.

It’s not paranoia that the Beijing 2022 Olympics will lead to unnecessary violence. It has happened before, and not only will it happen again, but in these dire circumstances it will be much worse. Like ants persistently rebuilding fallen nests, people in China protest at major events in the hope of publicizing their human rights concerns. The CCP will impose tougher movement and internet restrictions, but protesters will find a way to rebel despite the possibility of imprisonment or death. The military police will clash with trembling, unarmed civilians. It’s hard to wave a finger at knee-jerk protests when persistent protesters like the Tibetan people believe they have very little to lose. By allowing Beijing to host the 2022 Olympics, the IOC’s board of directors is signaling that it is ready to sacrifice the well-being of marginalized people for a completely flexible event.

After the shocking coverage of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, the Chinese government strategically expanded the international arm of at least one state-owned Chinese media company in order to shape the Western perception of China. Colorful projections of the CCP propaganda desecrated the Potala Palace of the Dalai Lama and the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa during the centenary – as Beijing will use every event to promote Tibet under the Chinese image.

“It depends on legitimacy. … What you sit through at these events is an extended performance for the benefit of the local public, to basically legitimize an unelected government, which is why these things, in short, are so important, “Graeme Smith, a Chinese policy specialist with the Australian National University, said Reuters.

It is almost certain that the Chinese state will try to use the Beijing 2022 Olympics to improve its global public image through selective reporting and censorship, and to advance its propaganda about Xinjiang and Tibet. The abolition of the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2022, on the other hand, may force a settlement, even if it provokes an angry reaction. It could make Chinese leaders think twice about politics related to the ongoing Uighur genocide – no human rights, no Olympic fun.

In 2008, during the last Olympic Games in Beijing, the plight of the Tibetans was dismissed by those in power, and since then the CCP has only become more authoritarian. It is more ruthless when those in power have the ongoing genocide and slavery of the Uyghurs, the draconian national security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong, the relentless geopolitical harassment of Taiwan, the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, and the systematic extermination of Mongolian and Tibetan people Culture. In addition to the heightened state repression that will follow with the new Beijing Olympics, a strong boycott or relocation claim could be made for any of the current atrocities in China.

The Beijing 2022 Olympics will be remembered for its violence and the selfish apathy of those who allowed it. The IOC claims that the Olympic Games are a non-political event, belies the fact that the Games are a perfect propaganda opportunity for the CCP. It is time for IOC directors to drop the lies they are telling themselves so as not to digest the reality of the Beijing Olympics.

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