Calls to boycott or relocate the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Games
Calls for a boycott or a relocation of the Beijing 2022 Games have been made by various human rights advocacy groups and political parties as China imposes restrictive domestic policies curtailing civil and political rights.
- We will continue to defend and support our values and human rights.
- The Government of Canada takes Team Canada’s well-being very seriously. We must recognize the independence of the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees when it comes to Canada's participation in the Games. Both entities take into account our athletes’ lifetime efforts and Canada’s commitment to our fundamental values, the protection of human rights and the rule of law around the world.
- Our Government will continue to work with its sport partners to support the best decision for Team Canada.
- On February 22, 2021, Members of Parliament (MPs) overwhelmingly voted in favour of labelling China’s persecution of the Uyghur community a genocide during a Conservative opposition day. The House also voted in favour of calling on the Government to request that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) move the Beijing 2022 Games from China if the persecution continues. All Conservative, New Democratic Party, Bloc Québécois, Green Party and Independent MPs voted for the non-binding motion, and the vast majority of the Liberal caucus voted in favour, although the Liberal Cabinet abstained. This came after the Chinese Ambassador to Canada criticized the pending vote on February 20, 2021, saying he firmly opposes the vote and that Canada is interfering in China’s domestic affairs, and that he denies a genocide is taking place in China. The Prime Minister has been reluctant to use the word genocide, suggesting that seeking broad consensus among Western allies on Chinese human rights issues would be the best approach.
- On February 17, 2021, the Leader of the Official Opposition in Canada urged Prime Minister to request moving the Beijing 2022 Games to another country, stating it was not appropriate for China to host the world’s biggest sporting event in light of its human rights abuses. In response to the Leader of the Opposition’s call, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) released a statement saying that moving the Games less than one year out is next to impossible and that the COC continues to “focus on preparing Team Canada for success and promoting the Olympic values at home and abroad”.
- On February 6, 2021, 13 Canadian Members of Parliament from all five major federal parties in Canada signed a letter urging the IOC to move the Beijing 2022 Games to another country over reported human rights abuses in China.
- On February 4, 2021, on the one-year countdown to the Beijing 2022 Games, the Chief Executive Officers of the COC and the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) released an Op-Ed outlining their opposition to a boycott stating, “in no way are we, at the COC and the CPC, trying to minimize what is happening in China. But a boycott is not the answer. Rather, we believe the interests of all Canadians, and the global community, are better advanced through competing and celebrating great Canadian performances and values on the Olympic and Paralympic stage… Faced with only two options – go or don’t go – our approach is to be present and join the conversation”.
- Although there has not been any talk of postponing the Beijing 2022 Games due to the pandemic, there is growing pressure around the world by various activist groups and political figures for countries, including Canada, to boycott these Games or put pressure on the IOC and the International Paralympic Committee to have these Games relocated given China’s domestic policies curtailing civil and political rights.
- While media articles abound on the topic of boycotting the Beijing 2022 Games, views on the topic are diverse. Boycotting Games is seen by some as a way of encouraging changes in behaviour, making a clear statement in a concerted approach to highlight foreign policy goals. Many argue the contrary, stating that even if one or more countries decided to boycott, such collective action would have little impact on the country hosting and conclude that boycotts are ineffective. Not boycotting could, however, suggest acceptance of the host country’s actions while aMany suggest that other levers at a government-to-government level are the only way to make an impact, or that exploration of the imposition of sanctions on China should be considered beforehand.
- Sport Canada continues to work with Global Affairs Canada as well as the COC and CPC to determine the appropriateness of Canadian participation in the Beijing 2022 Games and of the request to relocate the Beijing 2022 Games. All partners will continue to monitor developments as the Beijing 2022 Games approach. Decisions to not participate in Games should not be taken lightly.
- When dealing with China, Canada will be firmly guided by Canadian interests, our fundamental values and principles, including human rights, as well as global rules and strategic partnerships. The Government has a responsibility to share knowledge and best advice on the matter to ensure the safety of Canadians. This includes providing guidance in either scenario (to attend versus to boycott), carefully taking into consideration the positions of like-minded countries.
Prepared by: Nadia St-Louis (819-635-8318)
Director General of Communications: Chantal Reinert (613-983-1711)
Director General: Vicki Walker (873-353-9238)
Assistant Deputy Minister: Emmanuelle Sajous (613-867-0371)
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