Hours before Tuesdayâs handover of the Olympic flame for the 2022 Winter Olympics, human rights activists urged international governments, sponsors and athletes, to boycott what they called Chinaâs âgenocide gamesâ. (Other Sports News)
Activist groups, which also disrupted the flame lighting ceremony in southern Greece on Monday, accused the International Olympic Committee of granting legitimacy to rights abuses in China by allowing the Winter Games to go ahead in Beijing.
âWe have yet again borne witness to the hypocrisyâ of the IOC, Mandie McKeown, the executive director for the International Tibet Network, told a news conference in Athens.
âTheyâre handing over the Olympic torch to a host government that is so far removed from holding any of (the Olympic) ideals that it seems weâre living in a kind of warped reality,â McKeown said.
There has been international criticism of Chinaâs treatment of Uyghur Muslims in the northwest region of Xinjiang, as well as its crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong and its policies toward Tibet and Taiwan.
But the IOC â which also awarded the 2008 summer Olympics to Beijing â has shied away from the issue, saying itâs out of its remit.
In his speech in the ancient stadium of Olympia on Monday, IOC president Thomas Bach stressed that the modern Games must be ârespected as politically neutral ground.â
Activists on Tuesday argued that human rights in the country have deteriorated since 2008, claiming that the Summer Games âemboldenedâ China.
The handover ceremony was to be held without spectators, because of pandemic safety measures, at the renovated ancient marble stadium in Athens where the first modern Olympics were hosted in 1896.
Three activists were detained Monday after sneaking into the strongly-guarded archaeological site of Ancient Olympia during the flame lighting, waving a banner that read âNo genocide gamesâ and a Tibetan flag.
Another four were detained outside the site, while two more protesters were detained in Athens on Sunday after a protest on the Acropolis.
The latter seven have been released, but the first three remain in police custody in southern Greece. The Beijing Winter Games will run from February 4-20. Only spectators from mainland China will be allowed to attend.Â