By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, January 31: London based survey agency Survival conducted an exclusive poll which found that 58% of UK Olympic fans are likely to watch coverage of the Beijing Winter Olympics less, while 20% said they would not watch at all, given reports of the human rights violations by China. The survey asked 1,046 sports fans whether they would normally follow the events on television or turn off the Winter Olympics in China or the Men’s World Cup in Qatar, given the host country’s record in terms of of human rights.
The agency conducted the surveys exclusively for the rights organization free tibet and found that the majority of both groups said they would watch less or no coverage, 15% of World Cup fans and 20% of Olympics fans said they would switch off altogether. “The fans have spoken – they don’t want the sports they love used to whitewash the abuses of genocidal regimes, and they are ready to stop if necessary,” said John Jones, director of Free Tibet Campaigns. Many right-wing groups have called for a boycott or postponement of the Beijing Games over the past year with numerous campaigns urging sponsors and athletes to withdraw their participation in the “Genocide Games”.
Now that the Olympics are just four days away, campaigners have called on sports fans not to listen to live broadcasts of the international games for the same ethical reasons. The introductory report stated that for-profit international institutions should also be held accountable for their decisions to remain silent in the face of atrocities. “The IOC has shown time and time again that it cares more about profit than the Olympic spirit, and it will gladly play an active role in covering up human rights abuses, as it did with the Chinese government’s silence on Peng Shuai,” Jones added. .
The International Olympic Committee has received heavy criticism following its decision to let Beijing host another Olympics after the 2008 Tibetan uprising. The IOC has also been accused of covering up for China following allegations of sexual harassment by tennis player Shuai against one of the former vice-premiers, Zhang Gaoli. “Fans want more sports bodies to follow the example of courageous organizations like the Women’s Tennis Association and pull out of countries that don’t share their values,” Free Tibet wrote on its website.
Various rights groups from the #NoBeijing2022 campaign coalition are currently running the #IWillNotWatch campaign to encourage sports fans to pledge not to watch the Games and raise awareness among the general public about the human rights situation in the Tibet. China will now become the only country to have hosted both the Summer and Winter Olympics. The IOC remains silent on the consequences of letting China host the global event despite growing concerns over human rights abuses in Tibet, East Turkestan, southern Mongolia, Hong Kong and Taiwan , among other minorities.