The Czech Senate has called on Czech politicians not to participate in next year’s Winter Olympics in China, as an expression of condemnation of human rights violations perpetrated in the country. The Chinese embassy in Prague criticized this position, arguing that the politicization of sport violates the spirit of the Olympic Charter. Photo Credit: Freepik / Illustrative Photo.
Czech Rep., June 12 (BD) – On Friday, the Senate supported a resolution calling on Czech politicians not to participate in next year’s Winter Olympics in China, to express their disapproval of human rights violations perpetrated by the Chinese regime against Tibetans and Uighurs, as well as in Taiwan and Hong Kong. The resolution was initiated by the Senate’s human rights and foreign affairs committees.
“In the territory of the PRC, there are massive violations of human rights and freedoms, genocide and crimes against humanity, ethnic discrimination, suppression of cultural, religious and political identity,” the resolution stated.
The text of the resolution recalled the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008, when China restricted the free movement of athletes and journalists, in violation of its commitment to hold free and open games. According to committee chairman Pavel Fischer, China “abused” the Beijing Olympic Games “to further suppress human rights and freedoms, which was also reflected in massive repression against minorities.”
Senator Michael Canov, from the Liberec regional party SLK, expressed scepticism of the effectiveness of such a move, and insisted that Czech athletes deserve political support during the games, but Zdeněk Nytra, leader of the Senate ODS group, said he doubted that encouragement from politicians would affect the athletes’ success, and insisted that a political boycott would have symbolic meaning.
Senator Jiří Čunek (KDU-ČSL) said it would be better to agree on a common position between the Visegrad Group or the EU. Fischer said that the same discussion was taking place in other European parliaments.
According to the Chinese Embassy in Prague, the politicization of sport violates the spirit of the Olympic Charter, harming the interests of athletes of all countries and the international Olympic movement. A spokesman for the embassy condemned “the attempt of some Czech politicians to grossly politicize sport, interfere in China’s internal affairs and provoke non-participation in the Beijing Olympics.”
The USA recently called for a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics. According to Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, the non-participation of American politicians would be the right way to express opposition to human rights violations in China. In the north-western Chinese region of Xinjiang, members of Muslim ethnic minorities have been detained in large numbers in so-called “vocational and educational training centers”, which the US has described as open-air prisons.