T100% staff consensus
he Beijing Olympics start in sixteen days, but with concerns regarding safety and human rights violations making headlines, this is the year to skip watching and boycott the Olympics. Every two years, a different country hosts the winter and summer Olympics, bringing athletes worldwide to compete for gold, silver, and bronze medals. Structures (such as the bird’s nest for the 2008 China Olympics) are built specifically for the event, and the total preparations can cost billions. Countries look forward to showing off their wealth and prowess by going all out in providing beautiful spaces for the Olympics. The games provide an opportunity for the country to boost the attractiveness and appeal and bring in lots of revenue from the tourism of foreigners. In the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics, the revenue totaled around 2.0 billion U.S. dollars. However, with hosting a prestigious event, the drawbacks affect the underprivileged in the country. For example, the homeless are looked over and forcibly moved to other locations to make parking lots and Olympic event spaces.
In the last 66 years, countries have boycotted attending the Olympics six times. The biggest boycotting of the Olympics happened in 1980, with the summer Olympics being hosted in Moscow, Russia. The event was boycotted following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan by 65 countries following America’s lead; in return, fourteen countries boycotted the 1984 summer Olympics hosted in Los Angeles, citing concern for anti-Soviet violence. The most recent boycotted Olympics was hosted in Seoul, Korea. During the 1988 Olympics, four countries boycotted for various reasons, but the event set records for most countries and people participating. This year the winter Olympics is being hosted in Beijing, China. The Biden Administration announced on Dec. 6 that they will not send government officials to the winter Olympics to diplomatically boycott the Chinese Communist Party’s authoritarian rule regarding human rights records. Other E.U. countries that followed the U.S. (the U.K., Australia, and Canada) have accused China of committing genocide against Muslims, repressing freedoms in Hong Kong, and the disappearance of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai has added fuel to the concerns.
Over the years, there have been many ethical scandals regarding the event, such as performance enhancement drugs and political statements made by athletes and coaches. In Peng Shuai’s case, the ethics of the Chinese government were questioned after her disappearance occurred under questioning circumstances. After she accused former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault, she was erased from the internet and was not seen for weeks in real life. A government-controlled media organization tweeted a message supposedly from Shuai reassuring the people she was “just resting at home.” She later appeared in a video interview and claimed she never accused Gaoli and that it was a misunderstanding. We can still support these athletes without supporting the Olympics by watching highlights on their social media or following them through their careers outside the Olympics. This can include tuning into smaller competitions (not run by the Olympics). Many of the problematic things about the Olympics exist in other world-class competitions (like the Qatar World Cup), so these competitions should also be consumed critically and alternatives should be considered.
The Olympic committee should review the Olympics’ qualifications and review the supporting message by choosing specific countries. This year, the winter Olympics has raised ethical questions about the treatment of athletes and citizens and should not be watched. Spread information about the winter Olympics to friends and families and tell them to skip watching the program this year in protest. Supporting the Olympics with viewership this year is discouraged. This is just one opportunity to take a stand against unethical decisions and unjust treatment of humans.