The 2022 Winter Olympics are less than a year away and one country is starting to call for the games to relocate over egregious human rights abuses.
Yesterday, Canada’s House of Commons voted to formally announce that China is committing genocide on over one million Uighurs in its Xinjiang province. The motion passed 266-0, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet abstaining from the vote.
Human rights groups, Uighur activists, the United Nations, and other researchers, have brought forth numerous credible reports of China rounding up Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities into Chinese “training centers” that are really indoctrination camps.
In addition to formally recognizing the genocide for what it is, the resolution also called for the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Olympic games from Beijing.
In a press briefing last week, Trudeau said he will continue to follow the International Olympic Committee, the Canadian Olympic Committee, and the Canadian Paralympic Committee’s lead on tackling China’s human rights violations. Translation: he wont do anything about it.
But Canadian political leaders to the right and left of Trudeau have already come out to emphatically support moving the games.
“If an ongoing genocide is not reason enough to relocate a sporting event, then my question is, what is?” Green Party Leader, Annamie Paul, said in a virtual news conference early this month. Paul also thinks her country, and perhaps the U.S., should consider hosting next year’s games. “This is the kind of creative solution that Canada used to be known for and can be known for again.”
On the right, Canadian opposition leader, Erin O’Toole, has also vouched for the games to be moved. “I think Canadiens would agree that it would violate fundamental ethical principles to participate in an Olympic Games hosted by a country that is committing a genocide against part of its population.” The Conservative Leader said in a statement last week.
Canada is the second country to formally declare a “genocide” in China. The U.S. was the first to do so on the final full day of the Trump administration. Biden’s team is reportedly reviewing the genocide designation but the President has already called Beijing’s treatment of Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities a “genocide” in August 2020.
Despite the NBA’s stance on social and racial justice, the league continues to have a lucrative alliance with China even after Daryl Morey’s tweet and subsequent geopolitical controversy in the fall of 2019.
Since then, American athlete’s have been vocal over legitimate concerns of racism, sexism, and homophobia in sports and society. But will sports figures, Winter Olympic athletes in particular, start speaking out about the human rights violations in China?
But the bigger question remains: Will more governments join Canada and call to relocate the 2022 Winter Games? Or will they turn a blind eye to China’s human-rights abuses?