Athletes have real concerns about Beijing 2022, says human rights group head


Athletes have legitimate concerns about the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and organizers need to be transparent in addressing them, says the Centre for Sport and Human Rights chief executive Mary Harvey.

Human rights groups have urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to take the Games out of China because of the treatment of Uighur Muslims, along with other human rights concerns.

China denies human rights abuses.

"I’d like information and transparency of the situation," Harvey said when asked whether she was comfortable with the Games taking place in the country. "I think right now in the absence of information it’s difficult to say. I think sunlight is the best antiseptic."

Goalkeeper for the U.S. soccer team that won gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Harvey said sport was more aware of human rights than ever and athletes and fans were asking more questions.

"They do care about where products were made that they might be purchasing, they care about whether or not they are going to be in some cases safe or able to speak freely. They are legitimate concerns," she added.

U.S. Olympic champion skier Mikaela Shiffrin said in March she should not have to choose between her "morals" and her "job."

"It’s building, it’s increasing in volume. People have concerns," said Harvey of criticism of the Games and calls for a boycott.

"People who are advocating are becoming louder in their advocacy. And they are asking for some information. They would like more information to disprove what they are fearful of.

"In the absence of that, it probably will get worse before the Games... it could be they come off without a hitch, it could be that you are going to have athletes saying things or protesting. That’s possible too. It’s their right to do so."

As a former athlete, she questioned whether boycotts worked and said it was never good "when somebody takes the right to compete away".

Harvey said the IOC, which awarded the Games, could play an essential role in upholding basic human rights.

"If they choose not to take a position it’s not because they are unable to," she said. "I think it’s a choice they are making opposed to something they are fundamentally unable to do."

© Thomson Reuters 2021.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

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I'm afraid to visit any country where they can jail you for simply saying something critical about its government.

I wouldn't go.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

When it comes to getting tough on China, the IOC would be as useless as the WHO.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Boycott Beijing 2022.

The way things are going, with the US likely to withdraw, along with a high chance their close allies like Japan will too, it will just leave a "basket of deplorable" nations like Russia, North Korea, Iran and other commie/ex-commie rogue states attending.

Shame on the IOC for awarding the games to a nation engaging in an ethnic cleansing, mass genocide campaign against Muslims.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

It's absolutely right to have concerns, and even better, to boycott the Winter Games in '22.

It may rile up the Xi regime but it also may force them to examine their status quo.

it will just leave a "basket of deplorable" nations like Russia, North Korea, Iran and other commie/ex-commie rogue states attending.

Hmmm. None of these countries are actually communist. Or deplorable. Rather, it is the leaders who have taken the ideology and twisted it beyond all recognition who deserve our scorn.

And, if it's not too controversial a question - I'm curious as to why some folk persist in pushing the narrative that China is communist?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Never mind 2022, more concerned for 2021 if the Olympics go ahead

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I would think athletes are also worried about Tokyo, but at this point expressing any kind of doubt would mean a career suicide for most of them. 2022 is still at a distance where saying something can be forgotten by the time they have to decide to go or not.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Just keep repeating the lie enough and it becomes firm canon in the weak-minded.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Boycott Chicom's games..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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