11. March 20, 2021, at 6:45 p.m. Eastern Time.
Headquarters of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland, March 8.
Cofrini factory/ Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Former Prime Minister of Japan
was fired last month by the Tokyo Olympics planning committee after he made sexist comments about women talking too much during games. In response to the controversy, the International Olympic Committee issued a statement calling its comments completely inappropriate and highlighting the progress the IOC has made on gender equality, an extremely important fundamental human right and a fundamental principle of the Olympic Charter.
But the IOC has a huge moral blind spot: the widespread and systematic abuse of women by China, which will host the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing. In June 2020, the Associated Press reported that ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim women in Xinjiang, China, are being subjected to forced sterilizations, forced abortions and forced birth control en masse. In January 2021, the State Secretary
concluded that these and other abuses amounted to genocide. More than 160 human rights organizations have called on the IOC to postpone the 2022 Games due to human rights abuses in China.
In response, the IOC abdicated its responsibility by stating that hosting the Olympics does not mean that the IOC agrees with the political structure, social conditions or human rights standards of the host country. The IOC’s demand for political neutrality is not new, but in the case of China, the IOC knew what it was getting into. The 2008 Summer Olympics, also held in Beijing, were a celebration of China’s broken human rights promises, and since then China has become even more repressive.
However, the IOC seems more concerned about not embarrassing itself.
than with the human rights abuses of his regime. Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter states that political, religious or racial demonstrations or propaganda are not permitted in Olympic stadiums, on Olympic grounds or in other areas. This rule also serves as a framework for selectively ignoring political controversies and threats to Olympians. Last year, the IOC issued Orwellian guidelines on Rule 50 to support the idea that athletes’ activities posed an existential threat to the Games.
In the same vein, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee hammered out a deal in August 2019.
and fencer Reis Imboden to a one-year suspended prison sentence for their anti-racism protests.
But what happens when the Olympics itself is a giant propaganda show? Today, the IOC’s demand that the Games be apolitical is a boon to the Chinese Communist Party and other human rights abusers. The IOC and its sponsors hope to prevent mass internment, systematic rape and forced sterilization by silencing the athletes and reiterating China’s assurance that the principles of the Olympic Charter will be respected during the Games. As long as Xi doesn’t make grossly sexist jokes, the IOC is happy to let him harass the women of Xinjiang. The rest of us don’t have to.
Currie is a former ambassador for global women’s issues at the U.S. State Department.
Main Street: The new generation is learning the hard lesson that the Communists are real, as well as the lies and violence necessary to keep them in power. Images : KeystoneSTF//AFP/Getty Composite: Mark Kelly
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Published in the print edition of 12. March 2021.