ACT NOW: Support a vote on 15 July for a motion proposing a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

9 Jul, 2021 | Campaigns, Genocide, Latest

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What the motion says

This is a back bench motion proposed by Tim Loughton (Conservative MP for East Worthing and Shoreham) “That this house believes  the 2022 Winter Olympic Games should not be hosted in a country whose government is credibly accused of mass atrocity crimes; and calls upon the Government to  decline invitations for its representatives to attend the 2022 Beijing Olympics unless the Government of the People’s Republic of China ends the atrocities taking place in the Uyghur Region and lifts the sanctions imposed on UK Parliamentarians, citizens and entities”


On 21st January the foreign secretary summarised the treatment of Uyghur Muslims. “Internment camps, arbitrary detention, political re-education, forced labour, torture and forced sterilisation —all on an industrial scale. It is truly horrific…..we have a moral duty to respond.” On 22nd March, noting that “children are separated from their parents; an entire population is subject to surveillance, including use of facial recognition software,” he introduced sanctions against responsible Chinese officials and entities. In response, China sanctioned 11 British organisations and individuals, including 6 parliamentarians. On 22nd April the UK Parliament unanimously declared China’s treatment of the Uyghurs to be Genocide as defined by the UN’s Genocide Convention.

Why is the motion needed?

 China will use the Games to showcase its achievements as a nation and cover up the existence of the Genocide. A diplomatic boycott will deprive the Games of diplomatic credibility and will respect Parliament’s recent unanimous recognition of this Genocide.

Why should this motion pass?

A vote in favour helps fulfil the UK’s obligations under the UN’s Genocide Convention to “use all possible means” to “prevent and punish Genocide.” Recent polling shows the 75% of the Public (83% of Conservative voters) want the international community to force China to improve its human rights record. Voting yes is consistent with recent Government policy and its diplomacy in the UN putting pressure on China over this issue. Indeed neither  Dominic Raab nor Boris Johnson have ruled out such a boycott.

Does this not mix Sport with Politics?

The Olympic Charter emphasises “promoting respect for universal fundamental ethical principles” and the “preservation of human dignity.” Holding these Games in China is inconsistent with these values, especially as many main sponsors are complicit in the Genocide through  use of Uyghur slave labour  or their promotion of surveillance systems used to arrest and intern Uyghurs. It is extremely difficult to avoid Beijing 2022 merchandise being made with Uyghur forced labour, so deeply entrenched is it

in Chinese manufacturing. Indeed future IOC  contracts with a host city now stipulate compliance of all related activities with international standards including those related to modern slavery.

Will this affect our athletes?

No. It will not prevent our athletes participating in the games. This motion does not call for a full boycott but rather a diplomatic boycott. This way we are not punishing the athletes themselves.

Is it not  better to engage than confront China?

No better example of the failure of engagement to improve human rights exists than the award of the 2008 Olympics to Beijing. Since then, human rights atrocities have increased not only in the Uyghur Region, but Tibet, Mongolia and Hong Kong. 

The role of the Jewish community  / Jewish voice

In 1935, a year before Germany was due to host the 1936 Olympics, the UK Government refused to back an appeal by British athletes to Adolf Hitler to mark the Games by freeing imprisoned Jewish athletes and other incarcerated ‘for racial or religious reasons’. The Nazi regime attempted to use the 1936 Games for propaganda purpose, including white racial superiority and the persecution of Jews.

Similarly, when in 1931 Germany was awarded the Olympics by the International Olympic Committee, it was a republic. But when the Nazis seized power and began interning Jews two years later, the International Olympic Committee refused to openly criticise the treatment of the Jews  for fear of irritating its host, Germany.

History is repeating itself. Today, the International Olympic Committee is equally reluctant to criticise the 2022 host nation, while the Chinese government sees this as an opportunity to project soft power to the world.

Supporting this motion will be a reminder to the world of what happens when governments are rewarded for the atrocities they commit. A diplomatic boycott by the UK government will signal that the mistakes of 1936 must not be repeated in 2022.


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