Fanning the calls to boycott Winter Olympics to be hosted by China in Beijing next year, the British Parliament voted unanimously to boycott what is being called the “Genocide Games.” The MPs, in an early Friday morning session, called on the British government to not send any representatives to the Olympics, members of the royal family, diplomats or any other VIPs.
While the move is not binding nor does it stop athletes from participating or competing, a diplomatic boycott of the games has been called for. The pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson has intensified to formally snub the Chinese government.
Highlighting China’s atrocities on Uyghurs- a Muslim minority in China, the proposal argued that an event should not be held in a “country whose government is credibly accused of mass atrocity crimes”.
It also recommended that the UK should decline invitations for its representatives to attend the Winter Olympics unless the Chinese government “ends the atrocities” on the ethnic population in the Xinjiang region.
Despite the motion being non-binding on the government, it did receive support from across the House.
Conservative MPs call for a boycott
The motion was brought by Conservative MP Tim Loughton who is also a member of the global Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China. IPAC was formed by MPs around the world as a result of Beijing’s economic bullying of Australia.
Comparing China’s rule to Hitler’s regime, Conservative former leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith remarked that allowing China to go ahead with the Winter Olympics next year is akin to “appeasing Hitler”.
Smith in his speech said, “We have forgotten what happened when we appeased another ghastly dictatorship. Sixty million people died as a result of our failure when we appeased them and we are on the same course today. And this debate today about boycotting these Olympics is not just a token.”
“We know that China is sensitive when it gets global criticism, when people shine the torch on what goes on behind it. We know they react. Why do we know that? Because they sanction people like myself and many of my colleagues in this chamber and the European Parliament.” he added.
‘Gap between rhetoric and action’
Labour MP Afzal Khan (Manchester Gorton) said, “Despite condemnation from all sides of the house, including the Government, there is still a gaping chasm between rhetoric and action.
“We cannot on the one hand recognise genocide and on the other send dignitaries and diplomats to the Beijing Olympics,” he said further.
“Is it right to put the Queen in an uncomfortable position?”
Labour also asked if the government wanted the Queen to be in the “uncomfortable position” of “appearing to endorse a regime responsible for genocide”.
“Does he think it is right that the Prime Minister is set to put members of the royal family, and by association Her Majesty the Queen, in the uncomfortable position of appearing to endorse a regime that is responsible for genocide?” asked Shadow Foreign Office minister Stephen Kinnock.
Complete boycott of games
A coalition representing Uyghurs, Tibetans, residents of Hong Kong and others has been persuading participating nations to completely boycott the Winter Olympics.
“This cannot be games as usual or business as usual; not for the IOC and not for the international community,” said Lhadon Tethong of the Tibet Action Institute in an exclusive interview to AP.
Discontent with the International Olympic Committee, Tethong had said, “People have worked to engage with the IOC in good faith to have them understand the issues directly from the mouths of those most impacted — the Uyghurs at the top of that list and the Tibetans and others.”
“It’s clear the IOC is completely uninterested in what the real impacts on the ground for people are,” he added.
On the other hand, China while denying the allegations of genocide also criticized “the politicization of sports”. China’s foreign ministry said any boycott is “doomed to failure.”