The International Olympic Committee should postpone the 2022 Beijing Winter Games and find a new location for the event if China ''does not change its behavior'' and continues to commit ''genocide and crimes against humanity'' as if nothing was wrong, members from the Congressional-Executive Commission on China wrote in a letter Friday to IOC President Thomas Bach.
Citing abuses against the Uyghur population and other mostly Muslim ethnic groups in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Reps. James McGovern, D-Mass., and Christopher Smith, R-N.J., said proceeding with holding the Olympic Games in China is ''implied consent and suggests the IOC has learned nothing wrong from the Chinese government’s use of the 2008 Beijing Olympics to score propaganda wins and distract from its appalling human rights record.
''The IOC is on course to set a dark precedent where the behavior of future Olympic host governments is unconstrained by the international spotlight provided by the Olympic Games,'' they added.
The lawmakers noted that in 2018, then-chairs Rubio and Smith sent a letter to the IOC asking the organization to ''press for human rights improvements in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR)'' but received no reply.
''We have seen no evidence that the IOC has taken any steps to press the Chinese government to change its behavior,'' they added.
The State Department in April said it was talking with its allies about China’s human rights record and how to handle the Winter Olympics.
A department spokesman on Tuesday suggested that an Olympic boycott to protest China’s rights abuses was among the possibilities. But a senior official said later that a boycott has not yet been discussed.
Human rights groups are protesting China’s hosting of the games, which open on Feb. 4, 2022. They have urged a diplomatic or straight-up boycott to call attention to alleged Chinese abuses against Uyghurs, Tibetans and residents of Hong Kong.
Activists are also reaching out to national Olympic committees, athletes and sponsors after failing to get the Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee to move the games out of China.
Information from Reuters was used in this report.
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