Source: Colleen Ann Ruggieri

Despite sizzling summer temperatures, America’s enthusiasm for the Tokyo Olympics fizzled out faster than a 4th of July firecracker. Even though the United States came out on top with 113 medals, NBC’s ratings were less than half of what they were during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. Reasons for lower ratings are complicated, but cultural wars, different time zones, and the pandemic’s lingering effects undoubtedly took their toll. Media moguls and advertisers are already pondering what might be done to increase viewership of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, but the real question to be answered is why anyone would want to watch, celebrate, or attend them.

Due to the COVID-caused delay of Tokyo’s 2020 games, it will be less than six months before athletes begin their journey to the winter Olympics. The Biden administration has an important choice to make: to Beijing, or not to Beijing? That is the question, and the answer is both simple and necessary: the time has arrived for this country to prove to Xi Jinping and his Chinese Communist Party that America is more than a paper tiger. The United States must engage in an economic and diplomatic boycott of  Beijing’s $3.9 billion games.         

No one wants to see American athletes get stuck in an ugly international tug-of-war that prevents them from achieving their dreams, but it’s imperative to consider the Olympics’ founding principles established by Pierre de Coubertin in the Olympic Charter: “The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.”

Olympic International Committee President Thomas Bach stated in the United Nations Chronicle that “sport has a unique power to bring people together” in a global world. He asserted that the Olympic games remind humanity that “a better world is possible, because they set an example of peaceful global interaction.” And therein lies the rub.

As the Tokyo games drew to a close, Bach was asked during a press conference if he would denounce China’s abuse of the minority Uygur Muslims. Rather than giving him a chance to respond, IOC presidential spokesperson Mark Adams intervened, noted that the press conference would strictly focus “on Tokyo 2020,” and told listeners that the IOC would address concerns after its return to headquarters in Switzerland. No one knows for sure what the IOC will do, but a question at the press conference about the IOC’s expectations for Beijing 2022 was also declined.

China’s crimes against humanity and its violations of the IOC’s call for human dignity have occurred on a world stage. In its effort to stamp out religious dissenters, the Chinese government targeted between one and three million Muslim Uyghurs and placed them in reeducation centers, prisons, and forced labor camps. In its attempt to facilitate a genocide, the government subjected Uyghur women to abortions and mass sterilization. During a spring crackdown on Islam, Chinese officials arrested more than a thousand imams and religious figures in Xinjiang.

When stories of these crimes reached major news outlets, calls for canceling Beijing began echoing throughout the world. Months ago, during a bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China hearing, Jim McGovern (D-MA) accused the IOC of “cold indifference to genocide.” 

The CECC sent a letter to the IOC stating how unfair it would be to “force athletes to sacrifice their consciences in order to pursue their competitive goals, or vice versa” in Beijing, especially since many athletes could be wearing clothing made by enslaved hands. Based on the IOC’s lack of response, it is blisteringly obvious that it will do nothing to put out the flame of Beijing’s Olympic torch.

In a crackdown on another group of religious dissenters, Chinese authorities have targeted six million Tibetans living in a mostly Buddhist territory governed as an autonomous region of China. Warning against any effort toward independence, Dong Yunhu, former head of the Tibet Autonomous Region Propaganda Bureau, decreed that “Offenders must be punished hard and swiftly, public security and cultural market administrations must investigate and prosecute them with awesome power.”

Last month, authorities in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) prosecuted four monks and sentenced them to 20 years in prison. The harsh sentences demonstrate how far the CCR will go to restrict religious practice, prevent online communications, and punish peaceful expression. In response to Sunday’s Olympic press conference the Tibet Network, a global coalition of Tibetan groups, stated that if the world’s athletes attend Beijing, China’s leaders will “take it as an endorsement of their genocidal and repressive policies.”

As if China’s crimes against the Uyghurs and Tibetans are not enough proof of its willingness to ignore human dignity, its atrocities against the country’s 100 million Christians should be cause for boycott. In 2015, government officials removed 1,200 crosses from churches in the Zhejiang province. Two years later, Chinese police demolished the the Golden Lampstand Church, one of the largest evangelical houses of worship in the country.

Radio Free Asia reports that Christians are regularly arrested and held in secret mobile facilities. Upon their arrival, detainees are forced to stay in windowless rooms where they are beaten, tortured, and reeducated. The Chinese Communist Party has attempted to stamp out Christianity by demolishing churches, arresting faith leaders, and executing the faithful by means of organ excision. If America looks the other way and refuses a boycott the Beijing 2022 Olympics, it will disregard Western values and forget the faithful. 

As the world watches and wonders what to do about the winter games in Beijing, China is biting back. Following last month’s United Kingdom House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee recommendation for the UK to partially boycott the Beijing games, a spokesman from the China Foreign Ministry responded that the boycott “will not succeed.” Meanwhile, the Chinese government has already warned Washington that there will be a “robust” response if the United States becomes a part of any joint approach to boycott Beijing.

There is no doubt that China will pave its streets with gold plating as it welcomes and attempts to dazzle the athletes attending the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. With all of the illusory glitz and glitter of a nation hoping to rule the world, China’s lure of gleaming gold medals will be a garish attempt to hypnotize the masses and erase its failure to preserve human dignity.  

American athletes who knelt on Tokyo’s fields to protest civil rights challenges in the United States should prepare to drape themselves in hypocrisy if they choose to take the stage on Beijing’s podiums. Everyone present in Beijing should remember the innocents and the faithful who have suffered at the hands of the raging Red Dragon. After all, China provides an all-important lesson in humanity: “One may smile, and smile, and be a villain.”

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