TOKYO (AP) – Some of the world’s biggest broadcasters, including US network NBC, are being urged by human rights groups to cancel plans to cover next year’s Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. The Winter Games are scheduled to open on February 4.
Demand comes in an open letter rights groups representing minorities in China, including Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hong Kong residents and others.
The letter, obtained by The Associated Press, was sent to NBC Universal CEO Jeff Shell and other international broadcast executives. NBC pays $ 7.75 billion for rights to the next six Olympics and works closely with the Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee.
These payments are estimated to represent up to 40% of the IOC’s total income. The letter says broadcasters risk “being complicit” to “deepening human rights violations” in China.
The letter comes just days after the end of the delayed Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, focusing on the IOC and its choice of Beijing.
The The IOC has repeatedly said that it is just a sports body and its president Thomas Bach has refused to address or condemn the treatment of Uyghurs or other minorities in China. The IOC is also facing calls for a boycott, pressure on some of its top 15 sponsors and some athletes talking about the difficult situation they are facing.
A vice-president of a major sponsor of the IOC, Intel, said he agreed with the assessment that genocide is underway.
“All of your companies are at serious risk of being complicit in China’s plan to ‘clean up through sport’ serious and aggravated human rights violations and embolden the actions of Chinese authorities,” read the letter. opened. âBy showing Beijing 2022, your companies will legitimize these abuses and promote what is widely described as the ‘Genocide Games’.
China’s foreign ministry has repeatedly criticized what it calls “the politicization of sport” and said any Olympic boycott was “doomed to failure.” He also denied having committed genocide against the Uyghur people, calling the charges a “lie of the century”.
The Beijing Olympics will likely be hosted with few fans, and the media will likely be segregated from the athletes with little opportunity for free movement. The reason will be the ongoing pandemic.
The IOC has declined several recent calls to move the Olympic Games to Beijing. China is accused by some foreign governments and researchers of imposing forced labor, systematic birth control and torture on Uyghurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group in Xinjiang, a region in the west of the country.
Lhadon Tethong, co-chair of the International Tibet Network, said Canadian broadcaster CBC, UK BBC and ARD in Germany, all of which receive public funds, should not go ahead with any broadcast plans. She urged the public in those countries to speak out.
“It is unacceptable that NBC, CBC and other broadcasters are planning to help Chinese leaders project a rosy image of an ‘Olympics as usual’ as they commit genocide against Uyghurs and commit in a massive crackdown on Tibetans and so onâ¦ many others, âTethong wrote to The Associated Press.
The IOC included human rights requirements in the host city contract for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games several years ago, but it did not include these guidelines – the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights – for Beijing.
Paris is the first Olympic Games to contain the standards, long advocated by human rights groups.
Beijing was the IOC’s choice for the 2022 Winter Olympics, a decision taken in 2015 after the withdrawal of European bids, including Oslo and Stockholm, for financial or political reasons. The IOC ended up with only two candidates: Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan. The IOC members chose Beijing by 44-40.
Beijing also hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics, promising at the time that the Games would improve the human rights situation in the country.
“With this letter, we are warning the networks,” Tethong said. “If they broadcast the Beijing 2022 Olympics, they will be complicit.”