Human Rights Organizations Speak Out About Beijing

Thousands on Friday celebrated Beijing being chosen as the host of the 2022 Winter Olympics at events held around China. Though citizens as well as the Chinese government appear to be overjoyed, not everyone is happy about the announcement. As with the 2008 Summer Olympics — which the capital city also hosted — human rights organizations are speaking out against Beijing and what they have to say is just as critical. According to NGO coalition Chinese Human Rights Defenders, China's human rights record is even worse than when it hosted the 2008 games. In a statement released just three days prior to the IOC's decision, CHRD cites China repeatedly going back on its promise to improve human rights:

As a member of the UN Human Rights Council, it [China] has failed to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and has ignored its obligations under international human rights treaties, such as the Convention against Torture, which it has been a party to since 1988. ... Only four months after the 2008 Beijing Games, police arrested Liu Xiaobo, a poet and government critic, who later won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. If the IOC selects Beijing to host the 2022 Winter Games, it will be the first time in history that the IOC awards the Games to a country with the knowledge that the future host is imprisoning a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

CHRD has yet to release a statement following Beijing being confirmed as the 2022 Winter Olympics host city.

The International Tibet Network, which advocates for Tibetan freedom and human rights, expressed their disappointment in the IOC in a statement that ended on a hopeful note, urging Olympic officials to hold China accountable. Both China and Kazakhstan, which had a bid placed for Almaty to host the 2022 games, were required to sign human rights contracts. ITN said:

Having awarded the 2022 Olympics to Beijing, [the IOC] now has the added obligation to see that China abides by its code of ethics and commitments. It should also make public the commitments that the Chinese Government has made in order to secure the Olympics.

Officials from the nonprofit group Human Rights Watch echoed the ITN's call to action in a video statement from HRW Director of Global Initiatives Minky Worden following the Olympics announcement:

HRW has also come together with Amnesty International and others to form the Sports and Rights Alliance, a coalition focused on preserving human rights in countries hosting large-scale sporting events. The coalition also seeks accountability as well as a marked change from the last time Beijing hosted the Olympics in 2008. Amnesty International Netherlands Director and SRA member Eduard Nazarski cautioned the IOC against making the same mistakes in 2022:

In view of the human rights violations that were committed as a result of the Olympics in 2008, safeguards must be put in place to prevent a repeat. If anything the risks could be greater this time around, with the recent crackdown on human rights lawyers setting a dangerous precedent of things to come as 2022 gets nearer.

The IOC has yet to release a formal list of human rights requirements regarding the 2022 Winter Olympics nor has the committee detailed how, exactly, it will be enforcing them.