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Sport Olympics-U.S. Olympians voice concern over human rights ahead of Beijing 2022

05:40  20 october  2021
05:40  20 october  2021 Source:   reuters.com

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Veteran Olympians for the United States denounced China' s track record on human rights this week but stopped short of endorsing a boycott of Beijing 2022 , with the Winter Games quickly approaching. Rights groups and U . S . lawmakers have called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the 2022 Games and relocate the event unless China ends what the United States deems an ongoing genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups. read more.

(Reuters) - The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said on Tuesday it will prioritise educating its athletes on global issues ahead of the 2022 Beijing Olympics where some could enter the debate about China' s human rights record. The USOPC said its athletes are encouraged to support the values of the Olympic movement, which include non-discrimination and equality for all Activists have urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to take the Feb. 4-20 Olympics out of China given its treatment of Uighur Muslims along with other human rights concerns .

By Amy Tennery

FILE PHOTO: Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics © Reuters/EDGAR SU FILE PHOTO: Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics

(Reuters) - Veteran Olympians for the United States denounced China's track record on human rights this week but stopped short of endorsing a boycott of Beijing 2022, with the Winter Games quickly approaching.

Rights groups and U.S. lawmakers have called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the 2022 Games and relocate the event unless China ends what the United States deems an ongoing genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups.

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said on Tuesday it would prioritise educating its athletes on global issues ahead of the Games, where some could face questions on China's human right record.

Olympics-IOC's Coates rules out pressuring China over human rights

  Olympics-IOC's Coates rules out pressuring China over human rights US-OLYMPICS-2022-RIGHTS-COATES:Olympics-IOC's Coates rules out pressuring China over human rightsRights groups and U.S. lawmakers have called on the IOC to postpone next year's Beijing Games and relocate the event unless China ends what the United States deems ongoing genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups.

Beijing hasn’t made any improvements in terms of human rights and press freedom since it held its first Olympics Games in 2008. Washington-based Freedom House labeled China “not free” and gave the same scores in terms of political rights and civil liberties in 2020. In fact, China had a lower aggregate In 2019, Reporters Without Borders ranked China 177 in terms of press freedom, ahead of only three countries: Eritrea, North Korea, and Turkmenistan. U . S . officials voiced similar concerns back in 2008. In March 2008, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued a statement saying, “I

Top sponsors of the 2022 Beijing Olympics dodged questions on China' s human rights abuses at a bipartisan Congressional hearing Tuesday. Beijing denies there is abuse, but U . S . officials and leading figures in other democracies have recently described activities in Xinjiang as a “genocide.” “What is particularly frustrating for us is that you can sense the economic coercion that is at play here. If you even say that the genocide against the Uighurs is wrong, then there could be some sort of regulatory retaliation,” said Rep.

At the USOPC media summit this week, however, athletes were already part of the conversation.

"Athletes have a voice and why not use them," two-time Olympic luger Tucker West told reporters Tuesday. "Every human deserves to be treated equally with respect and dignity and fairness - you know, I'll kind of leave it at that.

"Regarding the boycott: It’s not my job to decide where the Olympics are."

Addressing China's human rights record, three-time Olympic ice dancer Evan Bates offered among the strongest denunciations.

"It's terrible - it's awful. And I don't think any athlete would be in support of that," Bates said, adding that celebrating "what the Olympic movement stands for" was important.

"I have no problem speaking for the athletes and saying that what's happening there is terrible and we're human beings too and when we read and hear about the things that are happening there, we absolutely hate that. We hate what's going on there."

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Rights groups and others have voiced their concerns over comments made by International Olympic Committee vice-president John Coates, who has ruled out pressing the Chinese regime over its human rights record ahead of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics . Speaking to reporters at the National Press Club of Australia on Oct. “We have no ability to go into a country and tell them what to do. All we can do is to award the Olympics to a country, under conditions set out in a host contract … and then ensure that they are followed.” His comments came amid pleas from human rights groups, and U . S . and

4-20 Olympics out of China given its treatment of Uighur Muslims along with other human rights concerns . Earlier on Monday, human rights activists unfurled a banner reading "No Genocide Games", waved a Tibetan flag and called for a boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics during the torch-lighting ceremony in Ancient Olympia . Hirshland said Team USA athletes have been preparing for the Beijing Olympics for years and that the USOPC plan to ensure they get their chance to compete.

The USOPC on Monday refused to be drawn into the debate, as Chief Executive Sarah Hirshland drove home a message that Olympic boycotts essentially harm athletes and do very little to impact problems in host countries.

But the topic remained front-and-center as Beijing Olympics organisers received the Olympic flame on Tuesday in Athens while human rights activists called for a boycott.

"For a greater change to occur there must be power that is beyond the Olympics. It has to be change at a remarkable scale," said figure skater Nathan Chen, who picked up a bronze medal in the team event at the Pyeongchang Games.

"However, the fact that people are talking about this issue, and the Olympics are bringing it to light is already a step in the right direction."

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; additional reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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