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OPINION: Winter Olympic games offer stage for humanitarian crimes

As Beijing hosts the Winter Olympics, accusations of genocide and humanitarian crises will take center-stage. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/FLICKR

The Winter Olympics started in Beijing on Feb. 5, and like some of its predecessors, this year’s Olympic games have not avoided political tensions.

China has been accused of humanitarian crimes against minority groups, such as the Uyghurs and Kazakhs, by the U.S.

The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) unwillingness to move the Olympic games away from a country performing humanitarian crimes goes against its own goals and puts a spotlight on China’s genocide of minority groups. Stricter hosting requirements would place the Olympics in countries that align with the IOC goals.

Its goals are to “encourage the regular practice of sport by all people in society, regardless of sex, age, social background or economic status,” according to the Olympics website.

These goals directly conflict with the allegations against China.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Jan. 19 that the treatment of the Uyghur Muslims amounted to genocide. The Biden administration agreed, and on Dec. 6, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced the U.S. would diplomatically boycott the Olympics in China.

“The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games given the [People Republic of China]’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses,” Psaki said in her announcement.

The controversy surrounding the Olympics this year is not an anomaly. Nazi Germany hosted the Olympics in 1936, resulting in protests from western countries. The 1976 Montreal games were met with a boycott from African countries after the IOC didn’t ban New Zealand for visiting apartheid South Africa.

Nazi Germany opposed the IOC’s goals by supporting the idea of Aryan race superiority. New Zealand’s rugby team opposed the IOC’s goals by validating the values of apartheid South Africa.

National boycotts at the Olympics offer a moral stand against international malpractices. However, the burden of action should not be placed on individual countries or athletes. The IOC, as the organizing committee, should take responsibility in upholding ethical standards at the Olympics.

By hosting these Olympic games, China will oppose the IOC’s goals by harming its own citizens and preventing the “regular practice of sport by all people in society.”

To avoid hypocrisy in its own goals, the IOC should form stronger guidelines to determine which countries can and cannot host the Olympic games.