In a labour report produced by the Belgian-based International Trade Union Confederation on Tuesday, the trade union body singled out the International Olympic Committee for turning a blind eye to the alleged human rights violations and genocide taking place in China, which is hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics.
China has been accused of committing forced labour, jailing trade unionists and pro-democracy activists, intimidating the country’s LGBT community, and repressing ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang under the guise of “anti-separatism and counterterrorism” by the organization.
In the report, titled China: A Gold Medal for Repression, the global trade union body highlighted China’s alleged human rights abuses.
The group’s report is in line with reports of Chinese state abuses by the U.S. State Department under both the Biden and Trump administrations, and a number of international bodies, including the China Tribunal, a British non-governmental inquest into forced organ harvesting in China.
The group is calling upon the IOC to “act on a basic set of principles around human rights,” said Sharan Burrow, the general secretary of the ITUC in a statement to the Associated Press.
“We want governments to take a stand in defence of their own athletes’ safety, and we want sponsors to actually review their association with the Beijing Winter Olympics,” she added. “You’ve got major companies who are supporting these Olympics who really ought to live up to values that they say they respect, which is fundamental human rights.”
Corporations that collectively pay billions to the IOC and are sponsors of the upcoming Olympics include Coca-Cola, VISA, Toyota, Airbnb, and Procter & Gamble, as well as notable Chinese corporations like Alibaba.
The report comes just three months ahead of the Olympics opening on Feb. 4, 2022, which is going ahead despite the massive outcry against China’s repression of democracy in Hong Kong and its military threats to Taiwan.
The Associated Press reports that human rights activists have put out calls for boycotts targeting sponsors and television broadcasters, and have demanded the IOC move the Olympics out of China. In one such protest, human rights activists were arrested at a torch lighting ceremony in Greece last month.
Despite the relative apathy shown by the sports community towards Chinese government repression, some athletes like Enes Kanter have been outspoken in their opposition to the upcoming games.
Kanter, a centre for the Boston Celtics, has published videos condemning Chinese President Xi Jinping and called for an end to China’s oppression of Hongkongers, Tibetans, and Uyghurs.