China has begun its preparation for the 2022 opening of the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Though many wait with great anticipation, others are deeply concerned that supporting the event will condone the alleged political interventions and social injustices committed by the government of China.
Human rights groups around the world recognize China as a controlling state of brutality against various ethnic, political, and religious affiliations. These groups are urging governments around the world to consider boycotting the 2022 Winter Olympics. Steven Lee Myers, in his New York Times article “China Is Preparing for Another Olympics in Beijing, Like It or Not,” states that China continues to be critized for desolving its democratic intentions in the city of Hong Kong and for its discrimination against Uighur Muslims living in the city of Xinjiang. Knowledge of this controversy has brought awareness of China’s aggressive policies and has negatively impacted its image.
“I can’t say I would or wouldn’t be surprised as I haven’t been following closely with what’s been going on,” Sixth Former Matthew Schwartz said, “but I would certainly be disappointed and saddened that people are mistreated, and I would hope that other countries step in diplomatically to help these marginalized groups.”
China believes in its strong economic leverage to coerce countries and corporations against boycotting the Olympic games. Critics believe that the allegations against China are accurate and that there is more to the story than meets the eye. Members of the The Haverford School community are mostly aware of China’s actions and are sympathetic towards the Chinese citizens.
“I personally believe that the Chinese are committing these acts out of hate for certain ethnic groups,” Sixth Former Tyler Neave said. “They claim that they are doing counter extremism, but in reality I believe it is ‘ethnic cleansing.’”
This is not the first Olympic boycott. For example, in 1980 the United States did not attend the Olympics held in Russia in protest to their invasion of Afghanistan. In 1984, “The Soviet Union and its allies stayed away from that event in retaliation for the United States-led boycott,” writes Myers in his New York Times article. Would a mass boycott of the 2022 Olympics have any effect on China’s policies?
“If the allegations are true I would support the boycott, violating human rights should never be trampled on no matter where you are,” Sixth Former Will Schaefer said. “I don’t believe it will work, though it might show other countries that we don’t like it. But it most likely won’t lead to any long-lasting change.”
If the boycott is successful enough to result in cancelling the event altogether, it would have a serious impact on the athletes that dedicated their lives in preparation for this event. If China does not listen to those who object their practices, many feel that it is the athletes who will pay the price.
“If the boycott is really, really effective, I would feel bad for the athletes that trained super hard over the last four years, especially during this pandemic time,” Sixth Former Gary Gao said. “Many winter sport athletes will miss the golden years for international competitions if the 2022 Games get cancelled. Therefore, I wouldn’t support a boycott unless there’s a well-organized alternative of the equivalent importance, which I think is pretty hard to arrange.”
China is a communist country that is considered the second leading world economic power. This gives the country the potential power to retaliate against countries that might consider boycotting the 2022 games. A boycott that is successful in protesting what is called by the Associated Press as the “‘Genocide Games’ because of reported human rights abuses against Muslim Uyghurs, Tibetans, and other minorities in China” may trigger and world-wide response.
“I am not surprised about the allegations,” Sixth Former Matthew Wang said. “The boycott is necessary. It is a step in the right direction, but more has to be done on a United Nations and international level.”
If the United States boycotts the 2022 Olympics, it could potentially affect Chinese-American life. The Haverford community is proud of its efforts to embrace all members of its diverse community as brothers.
“For me personally it does not impact my situation as a Chinese American at Haverford,” Wang said. “I hope that there will be no negative tensions at our school.”