VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – While there have been calls for Canada’s athletes to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing over China’s human rights violations, the Canadian Olympic Committee’s CEO is stopping short of doing just that.
We’re one year away from the start of the Winter Games in China, and COC CEO David Shoemaker says skipping them would only punish athletes.
He says the committee will instead be warning athletes of the consequences of speaking out, because of a National Security Law in China that has led to charges against dissidents.
Shoemaker spoke after a coalition of 180 rights groups called for a boycott this week on account of reported human rights abuses against ethnic minorities in China.
Conservative Foreign Affairs critic Michael Chong also pressed the Trudeau government earlier this year to consider a boycott. The federal government has already said decisions about boycotts are for the Canadian Olympic Committee to make.
Shoemaker says boycotting the Games “is unlikely to affect Chinese policies toward Muslims” and may even make things worse for detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who have been in Chinese custody since 2018. Their arrests have widely been seen as retaliation for the detention of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver.
In an opinion piece, published in the Globe and Mail, Shoemaker and Karen O’Neill, CEO of the Canadian Paralympic Committee, say they are “in no way… trying to minimize what is happening in China.”
“But a boycott is not the answer,” the op-ed reads.
The pair also says pressure from critics to “stop Canadian athletes from participating as the first order of business to reshape our relationship with China … amounts to little more than a convenient and politically inexpensive alternative to real and meaningful diplomacy.
“Boycotts don’t work. They punish only the athletes prevented from going, those they were meant to compete against and those who would have been inspired by them,” they write.
-With files from Cormac Mac Sweeney