SYDNEY: On Wednesday, a senior official with the International Olympic Committee dismissed suggestions that China should be challenged for its human rights record ahead of the Beijing Winter Games.
Asked about the treatment of the Uyghur minority in China, IOC Vice President John Coates said the body had no mandate to act.
“We are not a world government. We must respect the sovereignty of the countries that host the games,” Coates said at an event in his native Australia.
Human rights groups believe at least a million Uyghurs and members of other minorities, mostly Muslims, have been incarcerated in the northwestern Xinjiang region, and Beijing has also been charged with ‘violating human rights in Hong Kong.
“We don’t have the capacity to go to a country and tell them what to do… that’s not our mandate.”
The IOC and its members choose who hosts the Games and help organize the event.
The body presents itself as the “guardian” of the Olympic Games and is committed to “building a better world through sport”.
The Beijing Winter Olympics are next February, but there have been calls for sponsors and others to boycott them or find a way to protest the state of human rights in China.
The US Congress has grilled five major sponsors – including Visa and Airbnb – accusing them of supporting the alleged genocide of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.
In response, Beijing accused US politicians of “politicizing sport” and slandering China.
China has been ruled by the Communist Party since 1949 and has hosted the Olympics once before – the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.
This event was widely seen as a showcase of China’s growing wealth and status as a rising power.
This time around, overseas fans will be banned due to coronavirus restrictions, and the Winter Games will take place after several crackdowns – including in Hong Kong – designed to consolidate President Xi Jinping’s power.AFP