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Staff members attend a rehearsal for a victory ceremony at the Beijing Medals Plaza of the Winter Olympics in Beijing
A diplomatic boycott involves politicians and officials staying home while athletes compete at the OlympicsImage: Ng Han Guan/AP/picture alliance

Rights groups call for Olympic diplomatic boycott

January 28, 2022

Over 200 NGOs and rights organizations have called for a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. They have raised concerns about atrocities and human rights violations by the Chinese government.


An alliance of 243 human rights organizations and nongovernment organizations have called for a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympic Games, a week before the event begins. 

"The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics will open amid atrocities and other grave human rights violations by the Chinese government," the organizations said in a statement. 

Human Rights Watch, Frontline Defenders, Women's Rights Without Frontiers were among the signatories of the petition calling on politicians to boycott the Games. 

Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, said, "It's not possible for the Olympic Games to be a 'force for good,' as the International Olympic Committee claims, while the host government is committing grave crimes in violation of international law."

Beijing has come under fire for allegations of human rights abuses against ethnic minorities and a clampdown on free speech. China's policies regarding Hong Kong have also recently come under fire.

The organizations said they documented numerous rights violations, such as the detention and forced labor of Uyghurs, attack on free press and activists, and high-tech surveillance violating the privacy of citizens.

Watch: Uyghurs demand Winter Olympics boycott

There is also controversy regarding the safety of tennis player Peng Shuai, who had accused a former vice-premier of sexual harassment. 

Diplomatic boycott

Earlier, the US had said it would follow a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics and was soon followed by Australia, Britain, Japan and Canada. China warned the US would "pay the price."

Washington said it would not send diplomatic representation to the Games due to China's "ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity" against Uyghurs in Xinjiang. 

However, athletes from boycotting countries will be competing at the Olympics, which run from February 4-20. 

The omicron coronavirus variant has also posed a challenge to the Games in China, which has followed a "zero-tolerance" policy towards coronavirus. Organizers said the Winter Olympics will be held in a bubble, with the nearly 3,000 athletes, support staff, volunteers and media cut off from the outside world. Still, organizers have reported many staff and athletes infected with the coronavirus ahead of the Games.

Beijing's Olympic bubble

tg/sms (dpa, AFP)

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