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US Olympic Committee turns blind eye to China’s genocide for Beijing Olympics

IOC President Thomas Bach during the Opening Ceremony of BEIJING 2022. (Greg Martin/IOC/Released)
February 18, 2022

Like several major U.S. corporations sponsoring the Beijing Olympics this month, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOPC) has been soft on the Chinese Communist Party’s human rights violations in Xinjiang. 

In December, committee chair Susanne Lyons responded to questions about human rights violations in China by pivoting to an apparent marketing pitch for future America-based Games. 

“The best thing we can do is offer the world outstanding opportunities to have Games here in the U.S.,” USOPC chair Susanne Lyons said, according to ESPN. “In Los Angeles and, hopefully, in Salt Lake City.”

USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland even lobbied Congress last year in opposition to a boycott of the Beijing Olympics, asserting that a boycott would not solve any human rights issues occurring in the host country, The Associated Press reported at the time. 

Hirshland’s letter to Congress argued that while the USOPC is concerned about human rights violations in China that “undermine the core values of the Olympic movement,” an athlete boycott of the Beijing Olympics “is not the solution to geopolitical issues.”

Given Hirshland’s opposition to an athlete boycott, American Military News asked the USOPC what organization leaders believe is an effective alternative to addressing China’s human rights violations. American Military News also asked if there was any circumstance in which the USOPC would punish an athlete for breaking a host country’s rules.

The USOPC did not respond to American Military News’ request for comment. 

USOPC has repeatedly claimed dedication to its core principles, which include efforts to: “promote and protect athletes’ rights, safety and wellness,” “champion the integrity of sport,” “honor and celebrate the legacy of Olympic and Paralympic athletes.”

Earlier this month, an official with China’s Olympics organizing committee threatened athletes participating in the upcoming games with “punishment” for speech that violates Chinese law.

“Any expression that is in line with the Olympic spirit I’m sure will be protected,” said Yang Shu, deputy director general of international relations for the Beijing Organizing Committee, as reported by The Washington Post. “Any behavior or speech that is against the Olympic spirit, especially against the Chinese laws and regulations, are also subject to certain punishment.”