At an online press conference, Human Rights Watch activists representing Chinese dissidents, the minor Uyghur, and Tibetan populations, urged international attendees to voice their opposition against China hosting the Games. They will be starting next week.
Teng Biao, who was a human rights activist in China and is now a visiting professor at The University of Chicago, said that the 2022 Winter Olympics would be remembered as "the genocide games".
"The CCP's purpose it to precisely turn the sports arena in to a stage for political legitimacy, and a tool that whitewash all those atrocities," said he, referring to China Communist Party.
China's crackdown on Xi Jinping, the hardline ruler of China, has been felt by large swathes of society. In 2019, Hong Kong authorities crushed protests against the government in the city. The Beijing central government passed a national security bill that aimed to suppress dissent. This led to activists being arrested and civil society groups being disbanded.
Researchers estimate that 1 million or more people in China's western region, Xinjiang have been held in reeducation camps since the past few years.
A prominent British barrister established an unofficial, independent body to evaluate evidence about China's rights abuses against Uyghurs. It concluded that the Chinese government had committed genocide in December. China has repeatedly denied any violations of human rights in the region. It has also stated that it took actions to counter extremism within the region to ensure the safety of people.
Wang Wenbin, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, has reacted to the calls for boycott of the Olympics by the rights group. He said that the "so-called human rights organization" is biased against China and eager to cause mischief. Its fabrications of lies and rumors are not popular. Its most egregious acts of harm to the Olympic cause will not succeed."
The Foreign Ministry also stated that the Olympics should not become politicized. The U.S. has been leading a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics, which is already in place. Their relationship with China has deteriorated over the years.
Although activists have not been able to complete a boycott of the games', they have continued to speak out.
Their strength is your silence. At the press conference, Lhadon Tethong (director of the Tibet Action Institute) stated that this is what they desire most: that the world follows China's rules and that it will be a global player.
She appealed to athletes from France, the UK, France, and other countries to speak.
"I believe you should make the most of your privilege, your historic opportunity and your platform." She said, "You have to speak against the wave of genocide."