By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARSAMSHALA, Sept 9: More than 200 right groups around the world have urged 26 Olympic broadcasters including US based NBC to drop coverage of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February next year. The coalition of Tibetan, Uyghur, Southern Mongolian, Hong Kong, Taiwanese, Chinese and other human rights groups called to “immediately cancel broadcasting deals” to screen the international elite games or face being complicit in China’s plan to ‘sport wash’ the worsening human rights abuses.
The public letter accused the media companies of overlooking the Chinese government repressive policies. “All of these public commitments to standing up for human rights are to be lauded – by us and by your viewers – but these efforts will be entirely overshadowed by the abuses going on away from the cameras if you continue to support the Beijing Winter Olympics,” the activists said. NBC alone is paying $7.75 billion for the rights to the next six Olympics and works closely as a partner with the Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee (IOC).
“It is unconscionable that NBC, CBC and other broadcasters plan to help Chinese leaders project a rosy image of an Olympic “Games as Usual” while they are carrying out genocide against the Uyghurs, and engaging in a massive campaign of repression against Tibetans and so many others,” Director of Tibet Action Institute Lhadon Tethong said in the press release. The right groups are also deeply hesitant about China’s commitment to an “open and inclusive” environment as it recalled deteriorating years after the 2008 Summer Olympics.
The rights groups highlighted that under Chinese rule, Uyghurs, Kazakhs and Uzbeks are being locked up in “re-education camps”, Tibet is ranked the least free place by Freedom House in 2021, and the draconian implementation of the controversial National Security Law in Hong Kong. The joint letter also accused the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for giving China a free pass to “wantonly violate human rights” after it felt short of committing to global human rights standard after 2008.
The support for a boycott has exponentially increased, although organizers and sponsors have kept silent on the matter. According to ABC News, Beijing was the IOC’s choice through voting for the 2022 Winter Olympics, a decision made in 2015 after Oslo and Stockholm pulled out for financial or political reasons.