Next February, China is scheduled to host the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing and the surrounding province. That’s proving problematic for the governments of many nations because of growing global attention being focused on the country’s ongoing genocide, as designated by Mike Pompeo, against the Uighur people. Senate Republicans have already drafted a measure calling for the games to be moved to a different, less repressive country. Several European nations have similarly condemned China’s actions.
But how have our neighbors to the north reacted? Canada is preparing to send its athletes to Beijing to compete but their Olympic Committee is cautioning them in advance to not say anything “controversial” that might upset the Chinese Communist Party. (Free Beacon)
The Canadian Olympic Committee said its athletes should avoid publicly criticizing China ahead of the 2022 winter games in Beijing, due to concerns that critics could be prosecuted under the Communist Party’s national security laws, the Globe and Mail reported on Thursday.
David Shoemaker, chief executive officer of the Canadian Olympic Committee, said the committee plans to spend “a considerable amount of time” instructing its competitors on what “they might consider not commenting on, perhaps, at least until after the Games have taken place.”
“There have been dissidents in Hong Kong who have been taken away and charged for saying things that have been contrary to the Communist Party of the Chinese government’s policies,” Shoemaker told the paper. “So we will talk to our athletes about the implications of what they say and of the topics that they choose to speak about.”
This might not be quite as bad as it looks at first glance, though it’s still not a very good message to send. First of all, the policy isn’t coming from the actual Canadian government, but rather from their Olympic Committee. And it doesn’t sound as if they’re trying to offer some sort of cover to the Chinese government over their repressive actions. They’re more concerned that their athletes might be arrested or detained when they arrive for the games if they’re openly critical of the genocide.
Would the Chinese actually arrest athletes from another nation at the games and lock them up? Given their recent track record, I suppose we can’t really put anything past them, but it would be unusual at the least. They generally feel free to abuse their own people as much as they wish, but it would be a major escalation to take a Canadian, American, or European citizen and toss them in a cell.
Of course, we probably need to be careful how much of a hard-line we take on Canada when you consider that the Biden administration isn’t exactly leading by example on this issue. On Wednesday, Jen Psaki told reporters that Biden currently has no plans to boycott the games or bar American athletes from participating. When asked if Biden supported the Senate initiative to have the games moved, Psaki referred reporters to the US Olympic Committee.
“We consult, of course, closely with allies and partners at all levels to define our common concerns and establish a shared approach, but there is no discussion underway of a change in our plans from the United States at this point in time,” she said.
The White House and the State Department, asked repeatedly in recent days whether the Biden administration supported moving the Games, referred reporters to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) for further comment.
At this point, we don’t even know if the Biden administration will be sticking with the genocide designation. Biden’s pick to be our U.N. Ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said during Senate questioning that the State Department is “reviewing” the designation. She made it sound like more of a technicality or procedural issue, but the White House is clearly leaving the door open to the possibility that Pompeo’s decision might be walked back.
If that’s the case, we’ll have very little standing to criticize Canada for their rather lukewarm approach.