Terry Glavin: Do athletes really want Olympic medals that have been soaked in blood?Comments Off on Terry Glavin: Do athletes really want Olympic medals that have been soaked in blood?
Originally published by National Post on February 10, 2021
Now that a rising global movement to move the 2022 Winter Games from Beijing is finally starting to pick up steam in Canada, there’s a debate worth having about it, and some difficult questions to be raised. Can the International Olympic Committee be made to reverse its preposterous 2015 host-city decision in favour of Xi Jinping’s ravenous, globe-encircling police state? Is it possible to settle on a more civilized venue in time? What should Canada do if the effort fails?
These are among the difficult questions that arise no matter what we might think about Canadian flags on an Olympic podium being put to use as rags to wipe away the several provisions of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide that the Xi regime is transgressing in the course of enslaving and obliterating the Uyghur people of Xinjiang.
But before we get to any of those questions, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government will have to be shifted from the unequivocal standpoint it has adopted, which is that none of this is any of our business. Ottawa has outsourced these decisions to the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees, and that’s all there is to say, Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau’s office has been helpfully straightforward in explaining.
“Can the International Olympic Committee be made to reverse its preposterous 2015 host-city decision?”
And then there are all the questions that arise from the rationale that various Olympic committee officials have provided, which several Liberal MPs have echoed, as to why the Winter Games must proceed as planned and according to Beijing’s wishes. The first among these questions is this one: Just how stupid do these people think we are?
Dick Pound, the most senior of the International Olympic Committee’s 98 members and former president of the Canadian Olympic Committee, points to the 1980 boycott of the Moscow Olympics as “completely ineffective” because the Soviet Union was still occupying Afghanistan a decade later. “Boycotts don’t work,” COC chief executive officer David Shoemaker and Canadian Paralympics Committee CEO Karen O’Neill argued in an opinion essay published in the Globe and Mail last week.
Apart from the usual treacle about how the Olympics “help build connections and open doors” and provide a “unique means for the promotion of peace and development, for uniting rather than dividing,” Shoemaker and O’Neill claimed that their critics want an Olympic boycott to be “the first order of business to reshape our relationship with China.”
That’s just straight-up untrue. Human rights organizations, advocacy groups mobilizing on behalf of Tibetans, Mongolians, Uyghurs, Hongkongers and China Human Rights Defenders
The focus on the Olympics hasn’t just come out of the blue, either. The IOC ignored warnings from international human rights organizations six years ago that allowing China to host the 2022 Winter Games would only serve the regime’s purposes in silencing its critics. And now, the COC is playing right along, warning Canadian athletes to mind what they say in Beijing lest they offend the sensibilities of the ruling Chinese Communist Party and run afoul of the regime’s draconian national-security laws.
You would think Shoemaker would know better, and of course he does know better. Shoemaker came to his top COC job from a post leading the National Basketball Association’s China operations, which suffered massive reprisals — blacked-out broadcasts, boycotted merchandise, cancelled contracts — all in retaliation for a single Tweet in 2019 by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey: “Fight for Freedom, Stand with Hong Kong.”