(ABC4) – Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) is calling for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics one year before China’s capital hosts the winter games in 2022.
Beijing is set to be the host city of the Olympics for a second time, and Utah’s junior senator says it is an undeserved privilege.
In an New York Times opinion piece, the senator and former president and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games of 2002, says:
“As the Beijing Olympic Games approach, it is increasingly clear that China, under the control of the Chinese Communist Party, does not deserve an Olympic showcase.”
The Associated Press reports the Beijing Olympics are already scarred by accusations of rights abuses including genocide against more than 1 million Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups in the western Xinjiang region.
Sen. Romney says that while some have proposed the U.S. boycott the Games, there is a better option.
“Prohibiting our athletes from competing in China is the easy, but wrong, answer. Our athletes have trained their entire lives for this competition and have primed their abilities to peak in 2022,” he explains.
He adds that if American athletes do not participate, “millions of young Americans at home might skip watching.”
“And the Olympic Games are one of the most enduring demonstrations of the great qualities of the human spirit on the world stage: We witness determination, sacrifice, patriotism, endurance, sportsmanship. We would also lose the global symbolism of our young American heroes standing atop the medals podium, hand to their hearts, as ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ plays on Chinese soil.”
Instead of boycotting the Games, Sen. Romney suggests “an economic and diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics.” This includes staying home and not attending the Games to prevent “us from contributing to the enormous revenues of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Sen. Romney also recommends President Joe Biden sends Chinese dissedents, religious leaders, and ethnic minorities to represent the U.S. rather than diplomats and White House officials.
Violent protests were spurred ahead of Beijing’s 2008 Olympics due to China’s repression in Tibet, the status of the exiled Dalai Lama, and treatment of ethnic minorities, according to the Associated Press.
The AP says protests could happen again because of alleged human right violations.
In September, a coalition of human rights groups demanded the International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach to move the 2022 Winter Olympics out of Beijing. In a letter, the group asked the IOC to “reverse its mistake in awarding Beijing the honor of hosting the Winter Olympic Games in 2022,” adding that the 2008 Olympics failed to improve China’s human rights record.
“Awarding the Olympic Games to a national Olympic committee does not mean that the IOC agrees with the political structure, social circumstances or human rights standards in the country,” the IOC said in an email to the AP.
Asia – specifically, Toyko – is the host of the Summer Olympics, which was pushed to summer 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.