U.S. Senate Resolution Calls For IOC To Withdraw 2022 Winter Olympics From Beijing

Two United States Senators, Republican Rick Scott and Democrat Ed Markey this week introduced a bipartisan resolution calling on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to move the 2022 Olympic Winter Games out of China unless “Beijing addresses its violation of human rights.”

IOC President Thomas Bach helps introduce Beijing 2022 Olympic mascot Bing Dwen Dwen the panda, and Paralympic mascot Shuey Rhon Rhon, a lantern child (IOC Photo)

IOC President Thomas Bach helps introduce Beijing 2022 Olympic mascot Bing Dwen Dwen the panda, and Paralympic mascot Shuey Rhon Rhon, a lantern child (IOC Photo)

The Games were awarded to Beijing in 2015 when the Chinese Capital defeated its only remaining rival in the race Almaty, Kazakhstan to become the first city chosen to host both the Winter and Summer (2008) editions of the Olympics.

The resolution calling for the Games to be “rebid” to a different nation “unless the Government of the People’s Republic of China demonstrates significant progress in securing fundamental human rights” was also sponsored by Senators Jim Inhofe, Dick Durbin, Martha McSally, Doug Jones, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, Todd Young, Marsha Blackburn and Mike Braun.

A January 21, 2021 deadline was set by the resolution to measure any progress by China.

“Communist China should not be allowed to host the 2022 Olympic Games while simultaneously running concentration camps, violating human rights and oppressing the people of Hong Kong,” Scott, the former Governor of Florida and vocal opponent of Chinese policy wrote in a statement.

“The Olympic Games are an incredible opportunity to allow the world’s best athletes to represent their countries and unite our nations, and should not be hosted by one of the world’s worst human rights abusers.

“Today, the Senate is sending a clear message to the IOC: stand up for freedom and urge Communist China to do the right thing, or find a new home for the 2022 Olympic Games. It’s not about politics, it’s about human rights.”

Los Angeles has been chosen to host the Summer Games in 2028 and Salt Lake City is likely to bid for either the 2030 or 2034 Winter Games.

Scott wrote to IOC President Thomas Bach last October urging his “…committee to stand up for freedom and urge Communist China to do the right thing, or find a new home for the 2022 Olympic Games.”

The response I received from the International Olympic Committee is shameful and embarrassing for an organization that prides itself on ‘uniting the world in peaceful competition,’” he said, referring to a November letter from Bach.

“Are they naïve enough to think Communist China wants to unite the world?

“The Committee claims to be politically neutral, but the fight for human rights transcends politics. It’s sad they cannot see this.”

Similar resolutions were introduced in both the U.S. Senate and Congress in 2001 calling to block the Beijing 2008 Olympic bid due to China’s human rights record.  In response, the Chinese Ambassador to the United States blasted American politicians with rhetoric claiming any attempts to block Beijing’s Olympic bid “constitute a gross interference in the internal affairs and inherent rights of the IOC” and “run counter to the spirit of the Olympic Charter which forbids discrimination against any country or individual on the basis of race, religion, politics, sex or any other reason.”

Beijing was awarded the Games three months later on a landslide victory over second-place Toronto.

Fellow Florida Senator Marco Rubio explained “The Chinese government and Communist Party represses the basic freedoms of the Chinese people and commits horrific human rights abuses, including detaining over a million Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.”

“No country should have the privilege and responsibility of hosting the Olympics or any other international sporting event while flagrantly violating their citizens’ most fundamental rights. China should be no exception.”

The timing of the resolution has been called into question by domestic news reports as the United States faces a sudden escalation of COVID-19 Coronavirus cases that have resulted in 14 deaths nationwide.  Scott continued his criticism of China Friday by placing blame on the nation at a public round table “Communist China’s [COVID-19] data has been pathetic. We don’t trust anything that comes out of Communist China.”

Construction of the new permanent Olympic venues in China is mostly complete but some early test events have been cancelled due to government restrictions in place to fight the spread of the Coronavirus.

The virus outbreak that has claimed over 3,300 lives worldwide has also threatened the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games set to open July 24.  Bach claims the Games remain on track but the IOC will continue to liaise with health authorities and heed their advice if the situation worsens.

Major sport and entertainment events are being canceled and postponed worldwide daily as the outbreak continues to spread.

About Robert Livingstone

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.