Ensure protection of all at China's winter games, ITUC says

International trade union group call on IOC to 'ensure protection of all' participants at Beijing Winter Olympics
3 min read
07 December, 2021
The International Trade Union Confederation has called on the International Olympic Committee to 'take concrete steps to ensure protection for all those taking part in and attending the Beijing Winter Olympics'.
The ITUC's petition follows international outrage over China’s treatment of tennis star Peng Shuai [Getty]

An international trade union group has called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ensure the protection of everyone at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in a petition Monday. 

The International Trade Union Confederation said it was "concerned about the repressive policies of China’s ruling party", highlighting five areas of repression including detentions in Hong Kong and repression of ethnic minorities, such as Uyghurs. 

The 2022 Winter Olympic Games, held in Beijing from 4 to 20 February, has become a matter of global controversy, with the US announcing a diplomatic boycott on Monday over China's human rights abuses. Uyghur advocates, the Muslim minority group facing severe repression in China, are calling for an all-out boycott. 

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"It is vital the IOC and its partners take concrete steps to ensure protection for all those taking part in and attending the Beijing Winter Olympics," said a statement by the ITUC. 

The organisation is urging people to sign a petition addressed to IOC President Thomas Bach about the issue. 

"Let's send an unmistakable message… that the Winter Olympics will not contribute to oppression and human rights violations."

The New Arab asked the ITUC to specify what steps they wanted the IOC to take to ensure the safety of athletes and participants. The ITUC said they wanted the IOC to use "its strong leverage with the Chinese government". 

Their petition follows international outrage over China's treatment of tennis star Peng Shuai. 

Shuai claimed last month she had been sexually assaulted by a senior Chinese Communist Party official. Her post disappeared from China’s social media platform Weibo in about half an hour, and all discussion was censored online. 

The IOC held a 30-minute video call with Shuai to confirm she was okay. However, human rights groups continue to raise concerns over her wellbeing and the safety of other athletes ahead of the games. 

The new security law imposed by China in Hong Kong has also provided cause for condemnation. Rights group Amnesty International has been forced to close its offices in the hub because of threats posed to staff by the new law. 

The treatment of Uyghurs by China is another pressing human rights issue, with the US citing the "ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang" as one of the reasons for their diplomatic boycott of the games, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters. 

 The IOC said it is "committed to improving the promotion and respect of human rights within the scope of its responsibility. 

"The object is to ensure that people’s rights are put at the core of our operations and are respected in line with international agreements and standards," they said. 

The New Arab contacted the IOC about the ITUC’s petition. 

They said: "The Olympic Games are governed by the rules of the IOC, not by the government of the host country. The IOC requires that the hosts fully respect the Olympic Charter and the Olympic Host Contract in all activities related to the organisation of the Olympic Games."