Beijing 2022 – “Indifference to genocide” of the IOC denounced by the US Congress

The International Olympic Committee was accused of showing “cold indifference to genocide” during a Congressional Executive Committee on China (CCCB) hearing that today toasted US-based Olympic sponsors. United.

Figures from Airbnb, Coca-Cola, Intel, Procter & Gamble and Visa – all part of The Olympic Partner (TOP) program – were asked by CECC members about their IOC sponsorship in regards to plans for to organize next year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing, and actions they would be prepared to take to push for change, as part of the “Beijing 2022 Olympic Games Corporate Sponsorship” hearing.

The hearing has been heated at times, with Republican Senator Tom Cotton calling it “one of the most pathetic and shameful hearings I have attended in my eight years in Congress,” accusing witnesses of being under the radar. orders from their superiors within the company. “not to say a single crossword about the Chinese Communist Party”.

Democratic Representatives Tom Malinowski and Jennifer Wexton also expressed disappointment at the inability of witnesses to voice their opposition to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

However, Independent Senator Angus King said the hearing invited “the wrong group of witnesses,” arguing that the companies each have contractual obligations to fulfill, and that the CECC should instead question the IOC directly on how it is doing. has come to award the Games to Beijing and whether the decision will be reconsidered.

The IOC has been accused of “cold indifference to genocide” by Co-President Jim McGovern, who earlier this month signed a letter calling for the Games to be postponed.

In Xinjiang, China has been accused of using forced Uyghur labor, of carrying out a program of mass surveillance, of having detained thousands of people in internment camps, of carrying out forced sterilizations and intentionally destroying Uyghur heritage.

Republican Senator Tom Cotton criticized witnesses for their responses © Getty Images
Republican Senator Tom Cotton criticized witnesses for their responses © Getty Images

A US State Department report released in January said it amounted to genocide.

Beijing says the camps are training centers designed to eradicate Islamist extremism and separatism, and denies the charges against it.

IOC leaders have consistently rejected calls to move Beijing 2022 and said the organization remains neutral on political issues.

Critics argue that allowing China to host the event is a tacit endorsement of the regime, not neutrality.

U.S.-China relations are strained, with U.S. authorities joining the European Union, Canada and the United Kingdom in imposing sanctions on China in March in response to alleged human rights violations. man in Xinjiang.

China has issued a series of sanctions in response.

The CCCB sent a bipartisan letter to IOC President Thomas Bach last week, urging him to postpone the Games and then move them if that does not significantly improve the human rights situation in Xinjiang.

CCCB co-chair McGovern said at the start of the hearing that he had received a response from the IOC, which he criticized as representing “a cold indifference to genocide”.

Prior to that, Representative Chris Smith referred to the Games as “the Olympics of genocide” and comparisons to the Berlin Summer Games of 1936 have been made throughout by CCCB members.

Officials from the five companies were given the opportunity to testify.

David Holyoke, Head of Olympic and Paralympic Partnerships at Airbnb, was the first to testify, insisting that the company is committed to defending human rights and that its IOC sponsorship is specifically focused on supporting to athletes.

Coca-Cola Company Global Vice President for Human Rights Paul Lalli; Steve Rodgers, executive vice president and legal counsel at Intel; Sean Mulvaney, senior director of government relations and public policy at Procter & Gamble; and Visa’s senior vice president of global sponsorship strategy Andrea Fairchild all said the same thing in their statements.

Mulvaney said Proctor & Gamble had “supported various efforts to strengthen the International Olympic Committee’s approach to human rights.”

Fairchild cited Visa’s position as a founding supporter and advisory board member of the Center for Sport and Human Rights, and said that Visa has “helped more than 10 million rural residents live and work better through our financial literacy ”in China.

Questions from the CECC included how each of the companies planned to handle future contract negotiations with the IOC, whether they believed the Games should be moved from Beijing, and whether they would support athletes who chose to speak out on human rights issues. .

Responding to questions from McGovern, Fairchild, Mulvaney, Lalli and Holyoke, all insisted that sponsors had no role in selecting hosts for IOC events, and all five would not be determined whether they Would follow the lead of some Japan-based companies who refused to send a representative to the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Games against national opposition.

The extraordinary intervention of Senator Cotton during his questioning marked a particularly heated moment in the hearing.

He concluded that only Rodgers “on occasion” had provided satisfactory answers to the CCCB’s questions.

McGovern and CCCB Chairman Senator Jeff Merkley both concluded by thanking witnesses for attending, and Merkley expressed hope their companies would adopt some of the ideas raised at the hearing.

China’s human rights record has also come under scrutiny in Hong Kong and Tibet, and the International Campaign for Tibet responded to today’s hearing by calling for sponsors to do more to oppose the 2022 Games.

“Today’s hearing was a clear sign of the overwhelming bipartisan outrage across the United States over China’s human rights violations against Tibetans, Uyghurs, Hong Kongers, Mongols and others, “the group said in a statement.

“Corporate sponsors should call on National Olympic Committees and the IOC to publicly denounce human rights violations and demand that the Chinese government respond to them.

“If the National Olympic Committees and the IOC do not react adequately, companies should withdraw their sponsorship of the 2022 Games in solidarity with the victims of this abuse.”

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are scheduled to take place from February 4 to 20 and the Paralympic Winter Games from March 4 to 13.

This would make Beijing the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Games.

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