By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Dec. 3: A senior official from the rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged the International Olympics Committee (IOC) to not consider bids to host Olympic games from China until the human rights issues are addressed. The development comes after it was revealed last week that “discussions” have been held in China regarding a possible bid from Chengdu and Chongqing for the 2032 Olympics and Paralympics.
Former Chinese Olympic Committee secretary general Wei Jizhong’s attempt to play down the issue by saying it was “only an idea” at this stage has done little to prompt a strong worded objection from HRW’s Director of global initiatives Minky Worden.
He told insidethegames that China should only be allowed to bid for hosting privileges when it addresses the poor human rights record. He said, “The IOC is in the process of adopting the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which require due diligence, monitoring transparency, and remediation of abuses. None of these things is happening in China, and since it is already required in the host city contracts for Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028, it is delusional to think current Chinese leaders are capable or willing to uphold these standards.
“It is not fair or correct to have one standard for China – and a different standard for the entire rest of the world on human rights and sporting events.”
Worden said that freeing the one Uyghurs held in internment camps in east-Turkestan is a good start for China. “In fact, rewarding China’s repression with yet another Olympics would upend the Olympic system, which essentially is about competing on the basis of following the rules,” he further said.
Observers say that international pressure on China prior to the 2008 Olympics led to the Chinese side holding dialogue with Tibetan representatives, although many of the commitments were eventually not honoured by Beijing. “The fundamental problem with China bidding to host the 2032 Olympics is that China’s leaders still haven’t honoured the promises to improve human rights they made to secure the 2008 Olympics,” Worden said.
China’s human rights record in Tibet, independent observers say, is deteriorating by the day, as is in East Turkestan (Xinjiang) and most recently in Hong Kong. China is set to host the Winter Games of 2022 in Beijing.
“The 2022 Games will take place in a human rights environment significantly worse than that of the 2008 Beijing Games. As those Games near, the IOC appears to have no plan in place to assess whether the Games themselves will cause or enable human rights violations, HRW senior official Minky Worden said.