Human rights abuses and violations within China are continuing without any interference. The recent kidnapping of professional tennis player Peng Shuai demonstrates the Chinese government’s extraordinary lengths to eliminate dissent against their administration. With a significant international sporting competition around the corner in the Capital of Beijing, is boycotting the Winter Olympics the right decision to finally see some change within one of the world’s superpowers?

The status of Peng Shuai has risen to a matter of international concern since she posted a message on social media alleging that China’s former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli had sexually assaulted her. Her disappearance has raised serious questions about her health and safety. Even a couple video calls with Peng Shuai since the incident hasn’t alleviated concerns that she still may be under the control of the Chinese government.

This recent case, alongside the continual Uyghur Genocide (https://thelevinelowdown.com/2021/02/07/the-uyghur-genocide/) and various other human rights abuses, has resulted in democracies considering boycotting the upcoming Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. This would be a diplomatic boycott that would involve only the athletes competing without any national leaders, officials or widespread advertisement. It would be a major hit to Beijing.

Their response to these boycott threats? The returning threat of sanctions upon any country who boycott. The revolving door of threats and censorship! I reckon I’ll give this article 60 minutes before it too is censored by the Chinese government. In fact, it may be automatically censored because it contains the term “Olympic boycott” in the title.

So, the question begs, is boycotting the correct choice?

A united effort against China is the only option where a boycott could result in some change. That starts with the United States. If President Joe Biden announces a diplomatic ban on the Games, other democracies, including Australia, will undoubtedly follow. In the short term, I think this could have a positive impact, especially on the finding of Peng Shuai. However, I question the long-term progress that this decision could make – does boycotting the games really do anything for other human rights violations such as the aforementioned Uyghur genocide? Would this decision just result in increased tension between China and the Western World?

I think the latter is a possibility, yet, I think this is an opportunity to pressure the Chinese government, which may not arise again anytime soon. With question marks surrounding the validity of the IOC in acting impartially, it is down to each nation to take a stand.

A diplomatic boycott is an important step forward, but there are many more steps to come to ensure the elimination of human rights violations within China.

What do you think? Should countries like Australia boycott the Winter Olympics?

P.S. I want to briefly speak about Qatar – a country that has gone under the radar regarding its human rights violations over the past decade. Qatar will host the FIFA World Cup in 2022 and has been in a constant state of construction since 2010 to prepare to host one of the largest sporting tournaments in the world. In that time, 6,500 workers have died. 6,5000 migrant workers employed on the immense construction sites for the facilities that will host the World Cup have died. Questions must be asked about how these human rights violations have gone under the radar.

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