In a letter to International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, several lawmakers on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China are calling for the IOC to postpone the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and ultimately move the games elsewhere if the Chinese government does not alter its behavior.
"We are writing to ask the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the XXIV Olympic Winter Games scheduled to be held in China in February 2022 and to relocate them if the host government does not change its behavior. No Olympics should be held in a country whose government is committing genocide and crimes against humanity," the letter declares.
The letter is signed by CECC Chair Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Cochair Rep. James McGovern of Massachusetts, Ranking Member Rep. Christopher Smith of New Jersey and Ranking Member Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
Merkley and McGovern are both Democrats, while Smith and Rubio are both Republicans.
"On October 10, 2018, the then-Chairs of the Commission, Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Christopher H. Smith, sent a letter to you asking you to use the good offices of the IOC to press for human rights improvements in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). We received no reply.
"Since the 2018 letter, the situation facing Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic communities in the XUAR has deteriorated further, as documented by the Commission and numerous other governmental and non-governmental entities around the world," the letter states. "Earlier this year, the State Department determined that the Chinese government's actions constitute genocide and crimes against humanity. We have seen no evidence that the IOC has taken any steps to press the Chinese government to change its behavior."
The bipartisan lawmakers noted that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and said that this indicates that a postponement of the 2022 Olympics would also be possible.
"On March 24, 2020, four months before the planned start of the 2020 Summer Olympics, you announced jointly with the Japanese government a postponement of the Tokyo Games because of the COVID-19 pandemic," they wrote. "This demonstrates that the IOC is capable of orchestrating a postponement of the Olympic Games on short notice. If the Olympic Games can be postponed for a year for a pandemic, they can be postponed a year for a genocide.
"Therefore, we ask that you announce a postponement of the XXIV Olympic Winter Games to allow a period of time for the host government to take concrete steps to end its gross violations of human rights, including genocide and crimes against humanity in the XUAR, with a commitment to move the Olympic Games to another country unless fundamental improvements in the human rights situation in the XUAR are verified by the IOC and an impartial and independent United Nations mechanism, as proposed by over 50 UN independent experts in June 2020," the letter said.