Olympics open in China amidst much controversy

US takes a diplomatic stand, politically boycotts games


Courtesy of Flick

The National Stadium in Beijing hosts a variety of different competitions, as well as the Opening Ceremony last Friday.

The Olympic games are an event that brings the whole world together. 

But the United States isn’t having any of it this year.

On Dec. 6, the Biden Administration announced that the US will be diplomatically boycotting the Beijing Winter Olympic games. The goal of a boycott is to hurt the host nation of China without doing harm to a country’s own athletes.

The last thing the United States would want is to prevent their own athletes from participating in the Olympics Games, which began last week.

According to NPR radio the administration citied “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity”. The genocide that the current administration has pointed to is the alleged abuse of the Uyghur Muslims.

The Uyghurs are a large ethnic group that is native to the XinJiang region in the west of China. According to the British Broadcasting Corporation, they are being used for forced labor in what China is referring to as “re-education” camps.

The United States is making the right move. They have found a way to bring attention to the injustices that are currently occurring in China. 

But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should have be more firm and actually reacted to the situation instead of essentially ignoring it. Claiming that sports should not be politicized is a weak excuse to not act especially when the Olympics  have had a history of being intertwined with global politics.

The Olympics have come in times like this in the past, where countries have tried to cover up their transgressions by putting on a show for the world. In the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Nazi Germany used the games as an excuse to push their propaganda. 

Although this current case may not be quite as extreme, it is likely that China will use the games to push the idea that the country is doing well. 

It should also be noted that the allegations against a retired high ranking Chinese official made by China’s top women’s tennis player Peng Shuai, which resulted in her disappearance, also factored into this decision.

The rather passive response by the IOC to both of these pressing issues has resulted in other countries such as Australia, Canada and Great Britain stating they will  diplomatically boycott the 2022 Winter Games as well.

China has responded by saying that these actions go against the Olympic spirit.

The IOC plans to remain politically neutral, but some may argue that merely refusing to act has an effect on global politics.

Previously, the IOC hasn’t exactly had a squeaky clean political history.

During the 1948 games in London, the IOC banned both Japan and Germany from participating in the Olympics, citing their roles in World War II. The IOC also has been accused of corruption. In 1998 there were widespread allegations of corruption related to the 2002 games in Salt Lake City. 

The location of the Olympics is chosen by having the National Olympic Committees select a city within their nation and then place a bid. Whoever wins the bid gets to host the games. In 1998 it was revealed that members of the IOC received gifts from the Salt Lake Organizing Committee.

In the end the IOC must start owning up to their past mistakes and have to start realizing their role in global politics.