Where are the 2022 Winter Olympics being staged?
As the curtain comes down on the delayed Tokyo Olympics, thoughts now turn to the next major Games in the Olympic calendar, just a few months away.
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 around half a year to go before the opening ceremony, calls for an international ban on the Games continue. Earlier this year US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for a US 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.
US 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.
🔥❄️All venues and facilities for Beijing 2022 are close to complete. ♻️🌟They all aim to promote sustainability, and all the venues will be open for public use for winter sports after the games. #Beijing2022 #Olympics Learn more at➡️ https://t.co/C0bpbiD68Q— Beijing 2022 (@Beijing2022) August 4, 2021
"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 one 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.
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.
Republican Senator Mitt Romney introduced an amendment to broader legislation to counter China that would implement a US diplomatic boycott.
And a coalition of human rights activists on Tuesday called for athletes to boycott the Games and put pressure on the IOC.
UK response to US boycott threat
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that it was unlikely he would go to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, and said there were great sensitivities around the situation in Xinjiang.
The United States is consulting allies on a "shared approach" to the Winter Olympics in Beijing, amid criticism of China and calls for boycotts over human rights abuses. When asked if he would attend, Raab told Sky: "I doubt it."
"I think it would be very unlikely that I would go," Raab said.
Raab said Britain did not want to overly politicise the Olympics and that sports participation were not decided by politicians in Britain.
"Of course, there are great sensitivities around Xinjiang and things like that. We'll decide our level of representation at a political-diplomatic level if you like in due course."
'Athletes should not be punished'
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 US 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 US 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.
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