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Beijing Winter Olympics: IOC expresses no regrets

John Culatto
December 14, 2021

IOC senior member Dick Pound told German radio that China would allow athletes to speak freely during news conferences.

People wear protective masks as they walk front the logos of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics at Yanqing Ice Festival in Beijing, China
Beijing is preparing to receive athletes for the Winter Games in FebruaryImage: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Senior International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound on Monday said there was "nothing wrong with China" from a sporting perspective after a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Games by leading Western countries.

The United States, Canada, the UK and Australia have banned their officials from attending the Beijing Winter Olympics over human rights violations. China has called the move "political posturing" with the event set to get underway on February 4.

Politics not part of IOC decision

Pound told Germany radio station Deutschlandfunk that politics does not come into any decision concerning the award of Olympics events to a country.

"In the sense of having a host country that could organize and put on an excellent Games from a Games perspective, there's absolutely nothing wrong with China," Pound said.

"It's a very good and very organized country," he added.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound, poses in his offices in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
IOC senior member Dick Pound has defended the decision to opt for Beijing as host of the upcoming Winter GamesImage: Christinne Muschi/REUTERS

Pound explained that the awarding of the Winter Olympic Games was done "on the the basis of the importance of the country as a sporting nation and its ability to organize Games at the level that the world now expects."

He added that the decision to choose Beijing was not made "as an indication that we support the political objectives of that country."

China to ensure freedom of speech

Pound said that China's Olympic Organizing Committee would allow athletes to speak their mind at press conferences on issues like the Uyghur Muslim minority camps.

US President Joe Biden has accused China of genocide and human rights groups want all diplomats to pull out of the event.

"The organizing committee has given that guarantee that there will be freedom of speech for athletes," said Pound.

According to IOC rules, competitors cannot make protests during sporting events or medal ceremonies.

China has denied human rights violations in the Xianjang province, branding the diplomatic boycott "political manipulation."

European countries like Germany and France have held back from pulling officials out of the event, instead preferring to use the occasion to pursue dialogue with China.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Edited by: John Silk