by Seth Kauffman ‘21
There is a growing push among activists and some Republicans in Congress that the U.S. boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing on account of China’s abuse against Uighur Muslims. According to a BBC article, more than 180 worldwide organizations, such as the World Uyghur Congress, have issued a joint statement opposing the games and calling on nations to withdraw from the competition. China’s blatant violation of human rights is horrifying and it must be dealt with. However, a U.S. boycott of the games would deny hundreds of athletes the chance to compete on the biggest stage in the world, a moment which they have been training for their entire lives. Different actions can be taken by the U.S. to punish China for these atrocities that do not include athletes.
Canadian Dick Pound, Vice President of the International Olympics Committee (IOC), offered some alternative ways that countries can denounce China’s actions, such as withdrawing ambassadors from the country or suspending diplomatic functions. “Why would we sacrifice our athletes and their dreams in a gesture that we know will have no impact whatsoever?” he told the BBC. It is unlikely that a boycott will reverse the course of China’s actions, but perhaps they will be persuaded to change through other methods.