Beijing Will Host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, and Human Rights Activists Are Furious

Beijing Will Host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, and Human Rights Activists Are Furious

The International Olympic Committee voted Friday to award the 2022 Winter Olympic games to Beijing. The vote was finalized at a meeting of the IOC in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 

The decision was an unusual two-city race between Beijing and Kazakhstan's Almaty. Other contending countries like Norway, Poland and Sweden abandoned proposals due to concerns over cost and burdensome IOC rules.

Beijing previously hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics. The IOC decision means the city will be the first in Olympic history to hold both a summer and winter games.

"I think this is a great thing," A.J. Song, an entrepreneur in the city, told Mic. "Beijing already has experienced hosting the Olympics and will for sure have another great one."  

The vote was 44-40 in Beijing's favor. Jubilant Chinese took to the streets in celebration.

Activists decried the vote, however, saying the committee was doing a disservice to human rights by awarding China — a known and repeated offender — a chance to host the games again. "The Olympic motto of 'higher, faster and stronger' is a perfect description of the Chinese government's assault on civil society: more peaceful activists detained in record time, subject to far harsher treatment," Sophie Richardson, the China director for Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. "In choosing China to host another games, the IOC has tripped on a major human rights hurdle."

Among the many charges that have been leveled at the state in recent years include suppression of free speech, suppression of religious freedom, oppression of Tibetans, Chinese Muslims and other minorities, rampant government corruption, forced labor, organ harvesting, forced abortions, creating AIDS colonies, ivory smuggling and an arbitrary and unfair judicial system that sees prosecutors win 99.93% of cases.   

The democracy activist Liu Xiaobo — the only Chinese citizen to win a Nobel peace prize — currently sits in jail, convicted of "inciting subversion."

As a condition for being awarded the 2008 Olympic games, China promised to improve upon this record, and things did abate for a time. The intervening years, however, and the arrival of a new president, Xi Jinping, saw many of the old ways snap back into place. Today Human Rights Watch accuses the regime of perpetuating "the worst crackdown on human rights in China in more than two decades." 

A journalist living in China who wished to remain anonymous put it more bluntly: "Fool you once, shame on me; fool you twice, shame on you."