Sports events and athletes are often advocates for social changes. But, on the contrary, the Bejing winter Olympics 2022 is surrounded by controversies. From ramping allegations of rights abuses to environmental impact, the concerns are piling up, and all this is amid the increasing contagion of the COVID19 pandemic.
So, why is the build-up for the winter Olympics 2022 surrounded by controversies?
The Beijing Winter Olympics 2022: Overflowing Controversies
On February 4, Beijing welcomed over 3000 athletes from around the world to compete in about 109 sports events. But, the political diplomacy, COVID-19, environmental impacts, and privacy concerns are overshadowing the Olympics’ spirit.
Independent reporter, however, claims the application to be full of loopholes and easily hackable. The Chinese Communist Party government is notoriously famous for stealing individual data, and with the application, many fear athletes’ personal data is not secure.
To prevent privacy intrusions, the US has advised its athletes to use burner phones for the duration of the Olympics.
The Political Diplomacy
Politics and sports are two rarely coinciding parts of a picture, but the Beijing Olympics 2022 is setting a vivid portrait on the contrary. The official motto of the winter games is “Together for a Shared Future.” But, the simmering political controversies are putting the chasm between the West and China in the spotlight.
The UK, US, Canada, Australia, Kosovo, Lithuania, Denmark, and Estonia diplomatically boycotted the winter Olympics 2022 in December of 2021. The UK’s representative of the Inter-parliamentary Alliance in China, MP Duncan Smith, stated, “The Chinese government commits industrial-scale human rights abuses in the Uyghur Region, Tibet and sends near-daily military incursions into Taiwan’s airspace.”
Japan has also denied sending any ministers to the Winter Games, but only Olympic officials. A day after a Chinese soldier (politicizing the event ) was made the Olympic torchbearers, India too announced a diplomatic boycott of the Bejing Olympics.
“We cannot lend any legitimacy to China’s despotic regime.”British MP Iain Duncan Smith
However, the boycott is not expected to have any major influence over the government policies towards China.
Olympics 2022: An Environmental Disaster
At the inception, China pledged to make 2022 multi-sports events the cleanest and greenest in the history of the Olympics. However, the ground reality depicts an opposite scenario.
According to a sports ecologist of Loughborough University, Madeleine Orr, China’s plans of artificial snowfalls in the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 pose a great threat to the environment. She explains that scattering snow over the soil and plants in places unaccustomed to snow will damage local wildlife.
Furthermore, the energy and water usage for creating an extensive amount of snow as needed in China will be enormous. For example, an estimated 185 million liters (49 million gallons) of water will be required.
As per CNN, despite heavy criticism from the environmental activists, the Olympics Ski venues were built amidst a nature reserve that has been playing a vital life source of living beings in the vicinity for decades.
The Uyghruy Genocide and Human Rights Abuse
On July 31, 2015, when China won its bidding for hoisting the Winter Olympics 2022, the Olympics community came under fire. The human rights abuse record fueled the criticism, which has only heightened today.
From titling the Olympics 2022 as a genocide game over the mass prosecution of the Uyghruys in the country to highlighting the violent intrusion in Tibet and Hong Kong, protests are rising worldwide with the demand to boycott the games. In addition, the CCP government has detained millions of Uyghurs, where they are forced to renounce their religion, culture, and language and are coerced to work.
“The CCP’s purpose is to turn this sports arena into a stage for political legitimacy and to whitewash all the atrocities.”Teng Biao, Professor University of Chicago
Over the atrocities of the Ughruy Muslim population in China, many powers, including the USA, UK, Australia, India, and more, did not send any diplomats or government representatives to the Olympics. Interestingly, Muslim-majority countries like Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and others didn’t participate in the boycott.
While athletes are allowed to participate, a number of organizations are calling on the players to speak up. However, the punishments proposed to athletes by Beijing for breaking the law (speaking up against the government) could be a major security concern for the players. Therefore, numerous humans right organization are advising the athletes otherwise.
How is China Responding?
China has consistently denied all the acquisitions and has warned accusers like Germany and the US not to interfere in the country’s internal affairs.
Speaking up again with the US diplomatic boycott, China’s Foreign Ministry said, ” (the US) clearly violated the Olympic spirit” and “will pay the price for its erroneous actions.“
However, even with these concerns and conspiracies overflowing, the winter Olympics 2022 will go on, with China highlighted on the world stage.