Thomas Bach, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), is urging participating athletes not to speak out against China’s alleged human rights abuses during the games, the Washington Examiner reports.
So much for freedom of speech.
Bach’s speech stifling comments came during a press conference that he held the day before the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics. There, he pledged to remain “politically neutral” during the games, and he argued that participating athletes ought to do the same.
“If we are taking a political standpoint, and we are getting in the middle of tensions and dispute and confrontations of political powers, then we are putting the Games at risk,” Bach said.
“If, at the end, you would have Olympic Games only between national Olympic committees whose governments agree on every political situation,” he continued, “the Games would lose their universality, and with the universality, they would lose their mission, and that would lead to the end of the Olympic Games.”
So, what’s the mission that is so important that athletes ought to be willing to overlook China’s alleged human rights abuses? According to Bach it is “bringing the world together in peaceful competition — uniting humankind in all of our diversity, always building bridges, never ever erecting walls.”
Do you want to build bridges with a country that is facing the kind of human rights abuses that China is accused of committing?
This Winter Olympics is being called the “Genocide Olympics” by many. This is a reference to the alleged human rights abuses that China is committing, which includes the genocide of the Uyghur Muslims and other minority groups located in Western China.
Given this, many are wondering why it is that western countries, such as the United States, have decided to go ahead and participate in this year’s Olympics rather than boycott in protest of the human rights abuses China is accused of committing. A good answer to this question has not been provided.
Bach is far from the only leader to call for participating athletes to overlook China’s alleged human rights abuses. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) made news headlines this week by doing the same.
“You’re there to compete,” Pelosi said. “Do not risk incurring the anger of the Chinese government because they are ruthless.”
Pelosi, with this statement, managed to earn the criticism of many, even some of her supporters who believe that, if participating athletes feel compelled to do so, they ought to speak out against China.