WASHINGTON: A group of US lawmakers on Tuesday (local time) urged corporate sponsors to back out of the 2022 Beijing Olympics, over human rights violations in China's Xinjiang province.
US Congressmen invited the representatives from domestic firms who sponsor the Olympics to a hearing to address how they could leverage their influence to insist on concrete human rights improvements in China.
Senator Jeff Merkley, chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), in his opening remarks said the hearing was not meant to attack or embarrass individual companies but rather to explore how key Olympic movement stakeholders, corporate stakeholders, could use their influence to ensure the Olympics live up to its values.
"Holding the 2022 Winter Olympics in China and allowing its authoritarian government to reap the rewards in its prestige and propaganda of hosting this globally-beloved event does not uphold the Olympic spirit," he said.
Representative James McGovern said, "unless things change quickly, the Beijing Games will be held under a cloud as well - a different cloud, of genocide, crimes against humanity, gross violations of human rights and denial of religious freedom."
"As US-based Olympic sponsors, your companies represent America on the world stage. We ask whether you are willing to stand up for universal values and use your leverage against genocide and crimes against humanity," McGovern said.
The hearing comes a few days after a group of US lawmakers had called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the Beijing Winter Olympics and relocate the games unless China ends the ongoing "genocide" against Uyghurs and other minority groups.
Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative McGovern, released a letter last Friday to Thomas Bach, President of the IOC asking him to postpone the 2022 Winter Olympics and to relocate them if the host government does not end its "egregious human rights abuses."
The letter said that no Olympics should be held in a country "whose government is committing genocide and crimes against humanity."