In late 2021, the Biden administration officially declared that it would diplomatically boycott the Beijing Olympics due to the horrific human rights abuses in China. Although I rarely agree with President Joe Biden, I absolutely believe this is the right decision.
According to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, the decision was made in direct response to China’s genocidal treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang province.
As Psaki noted, “US diplomatic or official representation would treat these Games as usual in the face of the PRC’s gross human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang, and we simply cannot not do that”.
“We have a fundamental commitment to promote human rights. And we are firm believers in our position and will continue to take action to advance human rights in China and beyond,” Psaki added.
Interestingly, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which chose Beijing as the host city for the 2022 Winter Games, is also committed to upholding human rights, or so they say. According to the IOC, “the IOC is committed to improving the promotion and respect of human rights as part of its responsibility”.
Furthermore, the IOC states: “The development of an IOC strategic framework on human rights aims to reinforce this coherence and alignment, to reinforce the overall approach of the IOC in this field and to integrate, in a more systematic and comprehensive way, the IOC’s approach to human rights in all areas. its operations. »
Suffice to say that if the IOC is sincere in its quest to quell human rights violations, it would never have chosen China as the host country for 2022. Yet it did.
This is not the first time that the IOC has decided to hand over the Olympic Games, one of the most prestigious and famous events in the world, to a genocidal regime. In 1931, the IOC voted to hold the 1936 Summer Games in Munich, Germany. In 1933, Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. Despite Hitler’s horrific treatment of the Jews of Germany, the IOC turned a blind eye and allowed the Olympics to remain in what became Nazi Germany.
Hitler knew he could use the Olympics as a pedestal for propaganda purposes, and he did just that. In fact, many historians argue that hosting the 1936 Olympics gave the new Nazi government a sense of instant credibility on the world stage.
In the years leading up to the 1936 Olympics, for the first time in modern history, several nations considered boycotting the Munich Games. In the United States, Jewish groups in particular have called for a national boycott.
However, the boycott movement gradually died down and the United States sent a full diplomatic delegation along with 312 athletes. By the time the opening ceremonies took place, the 1936 Olympics included athletes and diplomatic delegations from 49 countries, the largest contingent ever.
After the 1936 Games, Nazi Germany was legitimized worldwide. From its extraordinary stadiums to its huge Olympic Village, the Games were a resounding success and a propaganda stunt of epic proportions for the Nazis. However, soon after the end of the Games, an emboldened Hitler began his conquest of Europe. The rest is history.
This does not mean that the 2022 Beijing Olympics will lead to a Third World War. But it is necessary to point out that by diplomatically boycotting the upcoming Olympics and calling out China for its heinous human rights abuses, the United States (along with several other nations) is at the very least holding China accountable. of its human rights violations.
This raises another question: Should the United States boycott the 2022 Olympics entirely, as it did in 1980, after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan?
According to some American leaders, this is exactly the path we should follow. For example, Senator Tom Cotton, R-Ark., says, “The United States should boycott the Genocide Games in Beijing entirely. American companies must not financially support the Chinese Communist Party and we must not expose the American team to the dangers of a repugnant authoritarian regime that wipes out its own athletes.
Although Cotton makes a very valid point, a total boycott of the Beijing Games would do a disservice to the hundreds of American athletes who have trained for years to be able to represent their country on the ultimate stage.
Therefore, it seems that the middle ground approach taken by the Biden administration, in which American athletes can participate if they wish, but American diplomats will not attend the Beijing Games, makes the most sense.
Chris Talgo is an editor at the Heartland Institute.