A coalition of more than 175 Tibet organizations have submitted a 12-page report to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) prior to its Evaluation Commission visit to China, to reject Beijing’s bid for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. They hope to distribute the report to the more than 100 IOC members around the world.
The timing is designed to coincide with the IOC inspection team’s visit to China March 24-28 to evaluate Beijing’s bid.
The report “Losing The Bet On Human Rights: Beijing and the Olympic Games” details that human rights abuses to China increased before the Games and culminated in the brutal suppression of the Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule in March 2008 under the gaze of the world’s media.
The report also highlights the IOC’s claims when awarding the 2008 Summer Games to Beijing in 2001 that human rights would improve as a result. Noting the failure of the 2001 decision to ameliorate repression in China, the report says, “the Sochi Winter Olympics have again shown that the award of the Games is no deterrent to governmental policies starkly at odds with the Olympic spirit; and that the politics of a host nation can and does tarnish the reputation and aspirations of the Olympic movement.”
“The IOC now faces the real possibility of making the same mistake again.”
The report describes the choice between China and rival bidder Kazakhstan “The devil’s alternative” and suggest a unique opportunity for the IOC to trigger positive change in both countries.
The package of reforms approved by the IOC in December last year, Agenda 2020, included new wording aimed to strengthen the organization’s stance on human rights protection though interpretation of the Olympic charter, especially in this regard, is often more of an art than a science. While the IOC fundamentally supports the reinforcement of human rights, IOC Presidents including current head Thomas Bach have often stated that the sport organization cannot interfere with the affairs of the state.
According to the reforms, the winning bid will be required to sign an agreement as part of the host city contract to protect human and labour rights as they apply to the construction of venues and preparation for the Games. The report calls for the IOC to enforce the agreement.
These issues thus far have typically received little ink in the IOC’s evaluation report that is intended to be used as a guide by members to help them cast their votes for the host city.
During Beijing’s bid for the 2008 Games, the free Tibet movement gained significant traction around the world, including the proposal of resolutions in the United States Congress opposing the bid. But the loud global conversation didn’t stop the IOC from electing the Chinese capital in a landslide against rivals Toronto and Paris.
In the run-up to the Games, pro Tibet organizations campaigned heavily and most visibly caused significant disruptions to the international legs of the Olympic Torch Relay.
Beijing is widely considered the favourite against rival Almaty to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. The final vote is scheduled for July 31 in Kuala Lumpur at the IOC’s all member’ session.