US Olympians worry about human rights ahead of Beijing 2022

Luge – Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics – Men’s Singles Competition – Olympic Sliding Center – Pyeongchang, South Korea – February 11, 2018 – Tucker West of the United States in action. REUTERS / Edgar Su

Oct. 19 (Reuters) – Veteran U.S. Olympians denounced China’s human rights record this week, but did not endorse a boycott of Beijing 2022, ahead of the Olympic Games. ‘winter.

Rights groups and US lawmakers have called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the 2022 Games and move the event unless China ends what the United States considers genocide ongoing against Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups. Read more

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said on Tuesday it would prioritize educating its athletes on global issues ahead of the Games, where some may face questions over China’s record. in human rights. Read more

At the USOPC Media Summit this week, however, athletes were already part of the conversation.

“Athletes have a voice and why not use them,” Olympic two-time luger Tucker West told reporters on Tuesday. “Every human being deserves to be treated equally with respect, dignity and fairness – you know, I’m kind of going to leave it at that.

“Regarding the boycott: it’s not my job to decide where the Olympics are.”

Addressing China’s human rights record, three-time Olympic ice dancer Evan Bates was among the most vocal denunciations.

“It’s terrible – it’s awful. And I don’t think an athlete would support that,” Bates said, adding that it was important to celebrate “what the Olympic movement stands for.”

“I have no problem speaking on behalf of the athletes and saying that what is going on there is terrible and that we are also human beings and when we read and hear about what is going on there we absolutely hate it. We hate what’s going on there. “

The USOPC declined to be involved in the debate on Monday, as Chief Executive Sarah Hirshland spread the message that Olympic boycotts primarily hurt athletes and have little impact on issues in countries hosts. Read more

But the topic remained in the foreground as Beijing Olympics organizers received the Olympic torch in Athens on Tuesday as human rights activists called for a boycott. Read more

“For greater change to happen, there has to be a power that goes beyond the Olympics. There has to be change on a remarkable scale,” said figure skater Nathan Chen, who won a bronze medal. in the team event at the Pyeongchang Games.

“However, the fact that people are talking about this problem and that the Olympics are highlighting it is already a step in the right direction.”

Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; additional reports by Rory Carroll; Editing by Stephen Coates

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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