The Olympics are often viewed as the peak of an athlete’s career when some of the world’s greatest athletes compete to represent their country. However, the question of whether the U.S. should boycott the Beijing Olympics, set to take place in February of 2022, has gained popularity due to China’s violation of the Uigher people’s human rights. American athletes should not compete in the upcoming Olympics in order to maintain the U.S.’s position on the importance of human rights and lead other nations in opposition to China.
China is facing intense global criticism due to its horrible treatment of the Muslim Uighur population in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. According to CNBC, the Uighurs are native to Northwest China and are one of China’s 55 recognized minorities. The allegations against China began in 2018 when credible sources reported millions of Uighurs being held in what the state classifies as “re-education camps.” These camps include detained men and women who have been stripped of their rights and are under a system of mass surveillance and detention.
Besides being one of the most famous sporting events, the Olympics also significantly benefit the host country’s infrastructure and tourism, according to the Sport Journal. Sports Journal also reports that the Olympics can be an opportunity for the host country to have access to extensive media coverage and develop their reputation globally. The 2022 Olympics affords China all of these opportunities, despite their cruel treatment of the Uigher people. The U.S. can not stand by passively and allow China to get away with these crimes while also benefiting from the significant advantages the Olympics provide. Abuses of power and the disregard for human lives should not go unnoticed and without consequence.
The U.S. faced similar pressures to boycott the 1980 Olympics in Moscow following the late 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. As reported by the U.S. Department of State, Americans led this boycott and were followed by a total of 65 other countries who refused to participate in the games. This show of resistance sent a message to the Soviets as well as other competing countries that the U.S. did not support their action. Other countries received the message and were also able to display their opposition. Not only was it necessary in order to maintain a reputation and uphold American ideals on the importance of individual rights, but it also encouraged other nations to show their opposition to Moscow’s political policies.
However, political figures such as Utah Senator Mitt Romney argue that there are other solutions and that by boycotting the Olympics, we are hurting our own American athletes. According to The New York Times, he suggests that instead, America should implement an economic and diplomatic boycott. He believes that doing so will “demonstrate our repudiation of China’s abuses in a way that will hurt the Chinese Communist Party rather than our American athletes: reduce China’s revenues, shut down their propaganda and expose their abuses.” That being said, the U.S. simply disengaging itself from diplomatic and economic relations with China would not be enough. The U.S. would be sending the message that our athletic achievements are more important to us than the lives of a million Uighurs.
By implementing a complete boycott of the Olympics, the U.S. can demonstrate that they do not want to be associated with this abuse of power. One of the American core values is the belief in the importance of human rights and protection of those rights from government infringement. By boycotting the Olympics, the U.S. could solidify their position and defend their core beliefs.