The 2022 Winter Olympics are set to be held in Beijing, China. However, given the horrendous and documented human rights abuses inflicted by the Chinese government upon the minority Uyghur Muslim population in that country, some are considering boycotting the games in protest.
However, just as we have seen major American companies — like Hollywood studios, sports franchises and tech giants — bow to Chinese pressure, so, it seems, the U.S. Olympic Committee may also be doing.
In a letter recently obtained by Politico, the CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, Sarah Hirshland, wrote to Congress trying to dissuade it from boycotting the 2022 Winter Olympics over human rights concerns.
Encouraging Athletic Prowess or Excusing Genocide?
Hirshland penned her letter because she became aware that certain members of Congress have begun advocating a U.S. boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics.
The treatment of the Uyghurs — which the U.S. has designated a genocide — has been a major item of concern, but other concerns — like accusations of compulsory organ harvesting and forced labor camps in China, as well as the country’s authoritarian form of government and its ominous social credit system — have also been motivating factors.
Hirshland concedes in her letter that there are, “valid concerns about China’s conduct, including the oppression of the Uyghur population, which the United States has designated a genocide.” She also states that “[t]he USOPC does not condone actions that undermine the core values of the Olympic movement — values that include diversity, peace, and respect for human dignity.”
However, she insists that “an athlete boycott of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is not the solution to geopolitical issues.” Furthermore, she cites the damaging social and psychological impact of COVID lockdowns around the globe and states that “[t]he world spent more than a year isolated, quarantined and afraid. Watching the world’s Olympians and Paralympian compete at both the Summer and Winter Games will be an inspiring human achievement.”
She also points out that, according to a Morning Consult poll, “roughly two-thirds of Americans oppose a boycott of the 2022 Olympic Games.”
In short, Hirshland complains about the politicization of sports and worries that this will have damaging effects on both athletes’ and spectators’ morale while conferring no diplomatic benefit.
Such concerns, however, are a bit rich and hypocritical given the degree to which sports have already been politicized in America.
Hirshland did not see fit to complain when football and basketball players foisted their unsolicited political opinions onto fans for what seems like an eternity and ruined the ability of millions to enjoy sports. She did not complain of politicization when even athletes who were not on board with the woke mob were pressured and bullied into declaring support for the latest leftist cause du jour.
So, is this letter just self-serving? It certainly looks that way. When the political cause is leftist, the politicization of sports becomes “a way for athletes to make their voices heard,” but when the cause in question threatens the ties of left-wing elites to the Chinese regime, it becomes “damaging” and a “politicization of sports.”