U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul joins call to move 2022 Olympics from China over persecution of Uyghurs

Staff members sit near a board with signs of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, at the National Aquatics Center in Beijing, China, on April 1, 2021.

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, the top House Republican on foreign policy issues, joined with Republican and Democratic colleagues to call on the International Olympic Committee to pull the 2022 Winter Games from Beijing.

McCaul, his Democratic counterpart on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York, and a bipartisan group of colleagues introduced a resolution on Monday that called on the IOC “to move the 2022 Winter Games unless the Chinese government ends its ongoing crimes against the Uyghur people,” according to a news release.

The Uyghurs are a predominantly Muslim group who live in China’s northwestern region. The Chinese persecution of these people reportedly includes indoctrination camps and forced sterilization of women.

“The [Chinese Communist Party]’s genocide against Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities is the moral test of our time,” McCaul said in a statement. “By granting the CCP an opportunity to cover up its atrocities and improve its image on the global stage, the IOC is violating its own principles and tarnishing its own brand.”

“I’m proud to stand with Members on both sides of [the] aisle, alongside allies from other democratic countries, in holding the IOC and CCP accountable,” added the Austin Republican.

The resolution stated that the U.S. House considered “the Olympic Charter’s principles of solidarity and nondiscrimination ... hard to reconcile with holding the 2022 Winter Games in a country the government of which stands credibly accused of perpetrating crimes against humanity and genocide against ethnic and religious minorities.”

It also said when the Olympics were held in China in 2008, “Olympic athletes, spectators, and international media had their fundamental freedoms severely challenged.” During those summer games, human rights groups and news outlets across the world protested several of the Chinese government’s actions. Reporters Without Borders reported they were “attacked or arrested or otherwise obstructed during the games.”

Amid that year’s Olympics, media organizations across the world protested China’s censoring of the internet from journalists. The IOC eventually admitted it allowed the Chinese government to restrict internet access.

The resolution further warned the IOC against dismissing the movement as “mere political concerns.” A “desire to stay above politics does not permit turning a blind eye to mass atrocity crimes.”

Some members of Congress from both parties spent recent weeks joining the calls of human rights groups for varying levels of boycotts against the 2022 games. Some members suggest a diplomatic boycott, in which heads of state avoid participating in the event, while other members call for an economic boycott, in which American citizens do not travel to China as spectators to the competitions.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken testified before the committee on Monday and indicated he was working with allies to come up with a “shared approach” to deal with 2022 Olympics controversy.