Despite warnings from human rights groups, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) chose Beijing this morning for its 2022 winter games.
In an almost laughable quote, IOC President Thomas Bach attempted to defer criticism by stating, "We know China will deliver on its promises." Since when has China ever delivered on its promises to respect human rights? In 2001 the IOC was duped into awarding Beijing the games under the gentlemen’s agreement that their human rights situation would improve. Not surprisingly, thousands of people were harassed, evicted, or detained in preparation for the summer games in 2008. Now, ironically in the midst of an unprecedented crackdown on human rights defenders, Beijing is awarded the Olympics. With no quid pro quo, how can one honestly expect that China will deliver on its promises to respect human rights for the 2022 games?
Other IOC officials have tried to champion the apolitical nature of the Olympics in defending the Beijing selection. According to former IOC President Sarah Baldwin, “'I think the Olympics should supersede politics.'' Yet for an organization that claims “ethical principles" are fundamental to the Olympics, attempting to divorce human rights considerations from the selection process is ludicrous.
Instead of putting faith in a blatantly untrustworthy China or claiming that somehow the Olympics should supersede human rights, the IOC should face the criticism directly. Their decision will almost certainly incite another bloody crackdown in 2022, and they will be complicit in that crackdown.