OLYMPIC GAMES

Where are the 2022 Winter Olympics being staged?

No sooner will the curtain come down on the delayed Tokyo Olympics, thoughts will then turn to the next major Games in the Olympic calender.

Where are the 2022 Winter Olympics being staged?
JONATHAN NACKSTRAND AFP

In July of 2015, the Chinese city of Beijing was awarded the 2022 Winter Olympics with the event scheduled to go ahead next year from 4-20 February with these set to be the first Winter Olympics staged in China. The city won the final bid beating Kazakhstan's Almaty by 44 to 40 votes.

Controversy ahead of the Games

With less than a year to go before the opening ceremony, calls for an international ban on the Games are growing. Earlier this week U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday called for a U.S. diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, criticizing China for human rights abuses and saying that global leaders who attend would lose their moral authority.

U.S. lawmakers have been increasingly vocal about an Olympic boycott or venue change, and have lashed out at American corporations, arguing their silence about what the State Department has deemed a genocide against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China was abetting the Chinese government.

Pelosi, a Democrat, told a bipartisan congressional hearing on the issue that heads of state around the world should shun the games, scheduled for February.

"Here's what I propose - and join those who are proposing - is a diplomatic boycott," Pelosi said, in which "lead countries of the world withhold their attendance at the Olympics."

"Let's not honor the Chinese government by having heads of state go to China," Pelosi said.

"For heads of state to go to China in light of a genocide that is ongoing - while you're sitting there in your seat - really begs the question, what moral authority do you have to speak again about human rights any place in the world?" she said.

An independent United Nations panel said in 2018 that it had received credible reports that at least 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslims had been held in camps in China's Xinjiang region. Beijing describes them as vocational training centers to stamp out extremism, and strongly rejects accusations of abuse and genocide.

FILE PHOTO: Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics - Test EventsFILE PHOTO: Staff members sit near a board with signs of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, at the National Aquatics Center, known colloquially as the "Ice Cube", in Beijing, China April 1, 2021. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo

Calls for the 2022 Games to be relocated

There have also been calls for China to be stripped of hosting the Winter Olympics with Democratic Congressman Jim McGovern said the games should be relocated.

"If we can postpone an Olympics by a year for a pandemic, we can surely postpone the Olympics for a year for a genocide," McGovern said, referring to the decision by Japan and the International Olympic Committee to delay the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo due to covid-19.

"This would give the IOC time to relocate to a country whose government is not committing atrocities," McGovern said.

Demands for some form of boycott of the Beijing Games are growing.

Last month, Republican Senator Mitt Romney introduced an amendment to broader legislation to counter China that would implement a U.S. diplomatic boycott.

And a coalition of human rights activists on Tuesday called for athletes to boycott the Games and put pressure on the IOC.

FILE PHOTO: Chinese and U.S. flags flutter outside the building of an American company in BeijingFILE PHOTO: Chinese and U.S. flags flutter outside the building of an American company in Beijing, China January 21, 2021. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo

Proponents of Americans competing in Beijing's Olympics say it would be unfair to punish athletes, and that the Games would provide a platform for the United States, which has one of the highest Winter Olympic medal counts, to show its vitality on the global stage.

Sarah Hirshland, the chief executive officer of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, said in a written statement to the hearing that the committee was concerned about the "oppression of the Uyghur population," but that barring U.S. athletes from the Games was "certainly not the answer."

"Past Olympic boycotts have failed to achieve political ends - and they should give all of us pause in considering another boycott," she said.