Mikaela Shiffrin Urges IOC to Take ‘More Consideration’ When Selecting Olympic Host Cities
8th March 2021
Last modified on May 12th, 2021
The 25-year old US skier was speaking to CNN Sport ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. China has been heavily criticised for its record on human rights.
China has faced international criticism for its treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, its crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong and its policies towards Taiwan and Tibet.
Some are calling for a boycott and the Games to be relocated.
Shiffrin has said “you certainly don’t want to be put in the position” of choosing between “human rights and being able to do your job”.
The International Olympic Committee has said it remains “neutral” on political issues.
The Chinese government has rejected the international criticism.
How did Beijing win the 2022 Winter Olympics?
We reported back in 2015 when Beijing was awarded the Games.
Beijing won the Games six years ago as all the other credible candidates and cities that expressed an interest pulled out after a lack of political and popular support – Krakow (Poland), Lviv (Ukraine), Oslo (Norway), Stockholm (Sweden), Davos/Klosters (Switzerland), Munich (Germany) and Barcelona (Spain).
When the vote came its only rival was Almaty in Kazakhstan.
Neither has a history of snowsports.
Beijing had a history of Olympic involvement.
Human Rights Concerns Over Beijing 2022
There remains the threat of boycotts due to China’s record on human rights.
According to Amnesty International, China’s human rights abuses include repression of minorities in the Xinjiang and Tibet regions.
Then there are the anti-democratic policies in Hong Kong.
A coalition representing Tibetan, Uyghur, Hong Kong and Chinese Democracy groups has held a meeting with International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials to press for the Winter Olympic Games to be moved over alleged violations of human rights.
China has claimed that its Xinjiang’s internment camps are “vocational education centres”, maintaining that its policies in regions such as Xinjiang and Tibet are for national security reasons and to counter extremism.
In the UK the conservative politician and former Tory party leader, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, is one of several British politicians calling for a boycott of the Games.
Sir Iain says the UK should take a “strong position” including considering a boycott of the Games over alleged human rights abuse.
He is among the co-chairs of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, with politicians from 16 countries and two representatives from the European Parliament.
The group aims to reform how democratic countries approach China, with activities centred on safeguarding international rules-based order, upholding human rights, promoting trade fairness, strengthening security and protecting national integrity.
The former Conservative Party leader has accused China of being “dictatorial, aggressive and intolerant”.
The UK government has not committed itself one way or the other.
“Generally speaking, my instinct is to separate sport from diplomacy and politics but there comes a point where that may not be possible,” said the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab last year to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.
A British boycott would likely consist of politicians and dignitaries not attending, rather than the Olympic team.
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said that a decision had not yet been made over whether politicians or members of the Royal Family will attend the Games.
The two venues where the skiing and snowboarding events are to be held, Zhangjiakou and Yanqing, are not expecting much natural snowfall.
Zhangjiakou has an average of 20cm of natural snow per year.
In Yanqing it is 5cm.
Competition will be mainly on artificial snow.
Of course many events do not need snow; ice hockey, skating and curling take place indoors.
The bobsleigh, luge and skeleton happen on ice on a specially prepared track.
Ski jumping can survive without much snow but it will be odd to see the backdrop brown rather than white.
In fact most FIS ski and snowboarding events take place on what is in reality artificial snow as thousands of gallons of water are sprayed on courses and the snowparks are sculpted.
They do need a base snowpack though.
The XXIV Winter Games are scheduled to take place February 4th – 20th 2022.