The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics are over. Good riddance!
I didn’t tune in to the Olympics this year and, if reports are accurate, a lot of other people chose not to do so, as well. There was a lot of controversy during the games. Questionable judging, a doping scandal, complaints of poor living conditions and lack of adequate food, and poor treatment of those with COVID. A great deal of attention was given to two Chinese-American women who, though born in the United States, elected to compete for China. Zhu Yi, a figure skater, surrendered her American citizenship to skate for China. She was roundly criticized, however, by Chinese fans when she failed to perform well. Eileen Gu, born in San Francisco to an American father and Chinese mother, also chose to compete for China. Unlike Zhu Yi, she won gold in the half-pipe and became a national heroine to fans of her adopted country. Gu was discreet about her citizenship status, refusing to answer questions about the matter. However, China does not recognize dual citizenship and requires all athletes who compete under its flag to be Chinese citizens. Given that, it’s fair to say that Gu, like Yi, surrendered her American citizenship in order to compete for China. It’s worth asking why two promising young and intelligent athletes would choose to compete for an authoritarian country with known and severe human rights abuses. It remains to be seen how they will be treated by the Chinese Communist Party now that the games are over.
Not much attention was given to another controversy. In 2019, Russia was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency from national competition for four years after it was discovered that they altered laboratory results. This was a ruse, however, since Russian athletes were allowed to compete under the pseudonym “Russian Olympic Committee.” So, Russia’s “punishment” for their previous doping scandal was to have their athletes compete under a different name and their gold medal winner wouldn’t hear the Russian national anthem played to celebrate the victory. Oh, my! The International Olympic Committee really hit the Russians hard on that one! “I didn’t get to hear my national anthem when I won a gold medal at the Olympics. Boo hoo!” Does the IOC possess any remaining remnant of credibility or respect? I doubt it. But they still get to make the rules. To top it off, the ROC was entangled in another doping scandal during these Olympics.
The great controversy of the 2022 Winter Olympics, however, was the fact that they took place in China, a country with several well-documented human rights abuses. Most of the attention was given to the genocide against the Uyghurs in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. Both the Trump and Biden administrations identified the treatment of the Uyghurs as a genocide. Reports are that many have been killed and many others have been interred in concentration camps. Other human rights violations committed by China include forced abortions, killing prisoners to harvest organs for the black market, slave labor, and religious persecution. China has also never recognized the independence of Taiwan or Tibet, and they have cracked down on civil liberties in Hong Kong.
Comparisons have been made to the 1936 Olympics held in Berlin and the decision the United States to participate, after robust debate. The comparison is reasonable, at least partly so. The Nazi government in Germany was well established as an anti-Semitic regime. But the decision to hold the Olympics in Berlin was made in 1931, before Hitler and the Nazis came to power and before the adoption of their anti-Semitic policies. Also, there were not yet concentration camps in Germany or an organized effort to extinguish the Jewish people by genocide. One could make an argument for boycotting the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, and many did, based on racial discrimination against the Jews and Germany’s insistence that no Jews participate in the Olympics. Indeed, some athletes refused to participate, though not many. For good or ill, the decision was made by the U. S. Olympic Committee to participate in the games.
The decision to hold the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing was made in 2015. The forced incarceration of millions of minority Muslim Uyghurs began in 2014. Also, other human rights abuses, such as forced abortions, harvesting of organs from murdered prisoners, and religious persecution, has long been known and documented in China. Though the United States and some other countries engaged in a “diplomatic boycott,” where state dignitaries would not attend the games, there was little effort on the part of any country to take action against the Beijing Olympics based on the CCP’s systematic genocide of the Uyghurs or the persecution of their citizens.
It’s worth asking: how did we get to this point? How did we get to the point where a country can engage in the worst human rights abuses possible, and multiple human rights abuses, and the rest of the world do little to nothing about their hosting one of the most prestigious international events? My theory: it’s all about the Benjamins. So many countries and companies, including the United States, are so invested in China and the huge Chinese market, that they are wont to overlook even the most egregious human rights violations to avoid offending the economic giant that China is, so they can continue to profit from the vast Chinese market. Some idiots have even gone so far as to suggest that Americans have no business criticizing China for its human rights abuses considering the debate over voting rights legislation here in the U. S. This is comically absurd. People can disagree on whether or not a particular piece of legislation related to voting is an attempt to disenfranchise particular racial groups. This is not genocide. This is not killing people for no reason other than to harvest their organs for profit. This is not slave labor or forced abortions and sterilizations. China was chosen for the 2022 Winter Olympics because they could promise the IOC big profits and a big stage. The IOC was not concerned in the least about human rights violations. It did not factor in at all. China has proven what it was counting on and what most of us figured to be true: that money speaks louder than morality. The soul of the IOC and of the international community has a price.
There is a bright side to this. As mentioned above, the Beijing Olympics failed miserably in the American television market. Few seemed interested in viewing the show, and I think this had a lot to do with the tensions between the U. S. and China at this time, but also with the moral frustration and disgust about such an authoritarian and abusive regime hosting the games. Athletes and actors who have made excuses for their continued profiting off the Chinese market, or even apologized for offending the CCP, have found little sympathy among Americans and a fair bit of criticism for their kowtowing to communists. It may be that the IOC, the nations of the world, and businesspersons and companies have little concern about China’s abuses, given the potential for profit. But the average Joe and Jane sitting in front of their TV seem to possess a level of integrity our leaders and celebrities lack. Given the choice, Americans turned the channel.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.