Human rights groups and activishave renewed their calls for a total boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in China over Beijing’s cruel treatment of its Uyghur minority.
The groups, some of which represent Uyghurs, Tibetans and residents of Hong Kong, ruled out the possibility of negotiating with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and said boycott was the only way, The Associated Press (AP) reported Tuesday.
“The time for talking with the IOC is over,” said Lhadon Tethong, with the Tibet Action Institute, in an interview with the AP. “This cannot be games as usual or business as usual; not for the IOC and not for the international community.”
Beijing is set to host the 2022 Winter Olympics six months after the conclusion of the delayed Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Tethong, who was detained and deported before the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008 for leading a campaign for Tibet, told said China’s human rights record “is demonstrably worse than it was then.”
By giving Beijing the green light to host the games, Tethong said, the international community would effectively show that it approves of what China is doing agai st the Uyghurs.
On Tuesday, a joint hearing of the U.S. Congress was dedicated to the Beijing Olympics and China’s alleged human rights abuses.
Rep. Chris Smith, co-chair of a bipartisan House commission on human rights, kicked off the hearing by referring to the games as the “genocide Olympics.”
“In granting Beijing host status for the Olympic games, we are crowning a barbarous regime with laurels while we should be condemning their abuse and genocide,” said Smith. “Don’t enable or sponsor the ‘Genocide Olympics.’”
The U.S. State Department has also decried China’s conduct against the Uyghurs in a recent report, where Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted that “the trend lines on human rights continue to move in the wrong direction.”
China has so far denied all of the accusations by the international community.
Tethong told the AP that although the IOC is sitting down with various parties to discussthe human rights violations, its “is completely uninterested in what the real impacts on the ground for the people are.”
“There are obviously a lot of people who are concerned about the athletes and their lifelong work,” she added. “But in the end it’s the IOC that has put them in this position and should be held accountable.”
Tethong told the outlet she’s hopeful to gain interest from athletes who’ve vocalized support for the Black Lives Matter movement, even if other athletes remain against the boycott.
The IOC added new human rights requirements for host city contracts for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, but they were not included in the contract for the winter games in Beijing, according to the AP. The IOC recently upheld a rule prohibiting “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda,” at venues for the Tokyo Olympics. Violators could be subject to punishment.