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Saturday, January 22, 2022

A US Diplomatic Boycott of the Beijing 2022 Olympics is Not Enough; Corporate Sponsors Must Divest

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By: Fern Sidman

The announcement by the Biden administration this week pertaining to the US implementing a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming winter Olympic games in Beijing that is scheduled for February is certainly a welcome one, but in reality it is not nearly enough to send China a strong message that its reprehensible record on human rights will not be tolerated.

The US has enough reasons to stay as far as possible from the Olympics. With China’s looming threat to invade Taiwan, its pre-meditated unleashing of the Covid virus that has led to the untimely death of close to 800,000 Americans and millions around the world as well as its willingness to demonstrate its military might, this megalomaniacal nation has made itself abundantly clear in terms of how they stand towards the US.

The U.S. traditionally sends a roster of high-profile dignitaries, often led by the sitting vice president or the first lady, to attend Olympic events – including the opening and closing ceremonies, according to a USAToday.com report. First lady Jill Biden led the U.S. delegation to the most recent Summer Olympics in Tokyo. This time around no official US diplomatic delegation will be sent to Beijing.

“We greatly appreciate the unwavering support of the President and his administration and we know they will be cheering us on from home this winter,” USOPC chief executive officer Sarah Hirshland said in a statement. “Competing on behalf of the United States is an honor and a privilege, and Team USA is excited and ready to make the nation proud.”

Speaking to the media, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “The athletes on Team USA have our full support. We will be behind them 100% as we cheer them on from home. But we will not be contributing to the fanfare of the Games.”

US Today reported that Psaki cited China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses” as primary reasons for the move. She said the administration did not want to prevent athletes from competing but still wanted to signal its disapproval of China’s actions.

“It cannot be business as usual,” Psaki later added.

Human rights groups had lobbied the White House to push for a full-scale athlete boycott of the 2022 Games, but such a decision rests solely with the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, which declined to entertain the idea, as was reported by USAToday.com

The New York Times reported that these human rights groups “joined the American government and lawmakers from several nations in describing China’s treatment of its ethnic Muslim minorities as genocide and denouncing crackdowns on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Pressure to hold China to task has only grown in the weeks since Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis star, disappeared from public view in November after she accused a top Communist Party leader of sexual assault.”

The New York Times also opined that “the diplomatic boycott announced this week by the Biden administration was a wise move, a public rebuke to China’s growing list of human rights atrocities and a guarantee that the United States’ emissaries would not lend tacit approval of these Games with their attendance,” is an article by Times sports feature writer, Kurt Streeter.

As he stated, however, this diplomatic boycott will not be entirely effective if corporate sponsors and others who are bankrolling these Games continue to pour money into it for their own self-gain. The companies who are worldwide Olympic partners are:  Airbnb, Alibaba Group, Allianz, Atos, Bridgestone, The Coca-Cola Company-Mengniu Dairy, Dow Chemical Company, General Electric, Intel, Omega SA, Panasonic, Procter & Gamble, Samsung Electronics, Toyota and Visa Inc.

Each of these companies need to be taken to task for supporting a brutal and ruthless regime where human rights of minorities are being violated each and every day. The substantial revenue that these companies are bound to make from these games are on the backs of those millions who are oppressed and subjugated under the Chinese regime.

The hypocrisy of it all is just too much to bear. The chances are quite likely that the aforementioned countries would not support an organization, school, charity or public event that called for the downfall of such a group like Black Lives Matter, nor would they lend their support as corporate sponsors of any group that publicly called for the oppression of any minorities in the United States, including but not limited to women, blacks, gays, trans people the disabled, etc.

But when it pertains to China and the big business deals and monetary incentives that they believe are destined to come their way, these sponsors are suddenly suffering from moral bankruptcy. Totally silent on human rights abuses, these corporate fat cats are rubbing their greedy little hands together as they hear the sound of “ka-ching, ka-ching” of their internal cash registers.

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