Tom Cotton Wants Complete Olympic Boycott In 2022
Tom Cotton Wants Complete Olympic Boycott In 2022
As much as we prefer that politics stay out of sports, that is an impossibility when it comes to the Olympic Games.
The size, scope, and political wrangling that go into the games makes them, by their very nature, political. In recent years, the appearance of North Koreans competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics was seen as a huge political statement. During the Cold War, the Olympics became part of the tit-for-tat between the United States and the Soviet Union, when the United States led a boycott against the Summer Olympics in Moscow in 1980, and then the Soviets boycotted the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984.
Given that history, it seemed almost inevitable that something would have to be done when the International Olympic Committee – hardly an upstanding example of integrity – awarded the 2022 Winter Games to China, to be held in Beijing. Remember that Beijing also got the 2008 Summer Olympics and things have only gotten worse in the communist-run dictatorship since then. There’s the takeover of Hong Kong, the ethnic cleansing and systemic oppression of the Uyghurs, and the absolute lack of accountability for COVID-19, just to name a few things. But Xi the Pooh has complete control of China, and the international community seems bent on turning a blind eye to the human rights abuses that are currently ongoing.
Case in point, the sports world is currently asking where is Peng Shuai, the Chinese tennis star who accused a top CCP official of sexual assault? She’s conveniently “disappeared” and put out an awkwardly stilted statement – in English, not Chinese – recanting everything. It seems a fair question to ask if Peng Shuai is even still alive. To their credit, unlike certain NBA stars, the big names of tennis have stepped forward to keep Peng’s name in the news.
I am devastated and shocked to hear about the news of my peer, Peng Shuai. I hope she is safe and found as soon as possible. This must be investigated and we must not stay silent. Sending love to her and her family during this incredibly difficult time. #whereispengshuai pic.twitter.com/GZG3zLTSC6
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) November 18, 2021
Which leads to a very obvious question – if China is willing to “disappear” its own tennis star because she “embarrassed” a party official, what will keep them from retaliating against athletes at the Olympics?
This is one of the questions Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) is asking. But not just that. Though he has been raising the issue of corporate sponsorships of the Olympics in Beijing as a problem before, Tom Cotton is now advocating for a complete boycott of the 2022 Beijing Summer Games. The Biden administration, up to this point, has announced that there will be a “diplomatic boycott” of the Games, meaning that there will be no delegation of elected officials attending the Games. Cotton says that isn’t enough.
Cotton said reports that the United States won’t send an official delegation to China is not a sufficient statement on the world stage, calling a diplomatic boycott the “absolute bare minimum that any civilized nation would do for these genocide Olympics.” Citing China’s “crimes against the world,” Cotton called for a “complete and total boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics” by the United States that would extend not only to athletes but also to U.S.-based corporate sponsors.”
“China unleashed a plague on the world that has killed millions of people and has disrupted the lives of every American,” the Arkansas senator said during a press conference.”
Cotton raised doubts that the Biden administration could be trusted to keep Americans safe during the event in February. After the administration’s bungled withdrawal from Afghanistan, Cotton said he did not have faith that it could adequately protect America’s finest athletes on a global stage.”
“The same gang that organized the withdrawal from Kabul is the gang that’s in charge of the safety of these Olympians, and that’s not a risk we should run,” Cotton said.”
Cotton also accused the Biden administration of waiting until this week to signal its diplomatic boycott of the games only because it needed China on board for the global summit on climate change in Glasgow. Cotton said many of his “panda hugger” colleagues in the Senate “care more about things like getting Xi Jinping to make some fantastical promise about carbon emissions 30 years in the future” than standing up to the Chinese Communist Party.”
Tom Cotton is not wrong about the Biden administration sucking up to China in order to get some kind of concession on climate change – after all, John Kerry admitted as much when he dodged questions about China’s human rights abuses (not a good look for the former Secretary of State).
A diplomatic boycott does send a message, but a total boycott would be a bigger message. But there probably isn’t enough momentum among politicians and athletes for more than this half measure. Team Brandon has demonstrated that they are pretty wimpy on China, and asking the athletes to stand up against China’s human rights abuses is hard to do when it feels so abstract.
Perhaps if they had a concrete example to rally around, like a missing Chinese tennis star, more athletes would consider a boycott on moral grounds. I have no doubt that it would be very difficult, because despite their corruption, the title of “Olympian” does still carry a cachet. I’m not saying it would be easy for the athletes to give up their Olympic dreams, but Tom Cotton is right. We know what is happening in China, and the participation of the United States and other countries who claim they care about human rights provides China with a moral whitewash that they don’t in the least bit deserve.