This month saw the XXIV Winter Olympics take place in Beijing, China, making it the first city to host both a summer and winter games. For the thousands of participating athletes all attention was on the 109 events across 15 disciplines, but, not for the first time, the Games were highly politically charged – being dubbed the “genocide games” and subject to the first diplomatic boycott in Olympic history.  

The diplomatic boycott of the Games was taken up by twelve nations, including the UK and US, primarily citing China’s record of human rights abuses. White House Press Secretary Jen Paski attributed the US diplomatic boycott to “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses”. Leading NGO Human Rights Watch and over 240 other organisations call particular attention to the following violations:  

  • Arbitrary detention, torture, and forced labor of millions of Uyghurs and other Turkic groups in Xinjiang (the Uyghur region);

  • Decimation of independent media, democratic institutions, and rule of law in Hong Kong;

  • High-tech surveillance systems enabling authorities to track and unjustly prosecute peaceful conduct, including criticism shared through apps, such as WeChat;

  • Prosecution of people exercising rights to free expression, peaceful assembly, and association on behalf of vulnerable populations; and

  • Arbitrary detention, torture, and forcible disappearance of human rights defenders.

China has not let the boycott impact one of the more powerful tools of soft power that exists on the global stage; on the sidelines of the Games more than 30 bilateral meetings have taken place with heads of states and governments. Notably President Xi met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a demonstration of solidarity with Russia as they move troops into Ukraine. The two nations no doubt shared common ground in a non-interventionist approach to sovereignty, with China potentially taking note of the West’s response to Russia’s actions given their ambition to “reunite” Taiwan with China, using force if needed. 

That inevitably raises the question of how powerful boycotts of this nature can be. Perhaps the most famous example in history was the sporting boycott of apartheid South Africa which sustained for decades, drawing popular attention to the anti-apartheid movement and inspiring similar cultural and economic boycotts that would eventually take their toll. 

While China uses the opportunity of the Winter Olympics to distract and “sportswash”, it is important to shine a spotlight on the plight of the millions currently being repressed, interned, intimidated and even killed in the same country. While the diplomatic boycott can’t solve these issues singlehandedly, it can be a vital tool to provoke viewers to look beyond the action on the ice. 

How we collect personal information

We may collect personal information about you from these sources:
When you subscribe to our mailing list When you give us your business card When you contact us about our services

How will we use the information about you?

We will use your personal information to keep you updated with the latest news from Aequitas. You have a right at any time to stop us from contacting you for marketing purposes. If you have consented to receiving marketing, you may opt out at a later date. You can opt out by emailing us at: info@aeqglobal.com Any personal information that we hold will be stored securely.
We use a third-party provider, MailChimp, to deliver our communications. We gather statistics around email opening and clicks using industry standard technologies to help us monitor and improve our communications. For more information, please see MailChimp’s privacy notice.

Access to your information

You have the right to request a copy of the information that we hold about you. If you would like a copy of your personal information, please email us at: info@aeqglobal.com
We want to make sure that your personal information is accurate and up to date. You may ask us to correct or remove information that you think is inaccurate.