BEIJING, November 20 (Xinhua) – Calls from some quarters for a boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Games pose a serious threat to the ideals and principles on which the Olympic movement was founded.
According to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the three core values of Olympics are excellence, friendship and respect.
“Every individual must have the opportunity to play sports, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play,” the IOC said in its Olympic Charter.
With this in mind, it is impossible to justify comments from American and European politicians as well as some Western lobby groups, who have made baseless and hypocritical accusations related to Xinjiang, Tibet, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Despite these ill-considered statements, there has not been a single National Olympic Committee (NOC), sponsor or athlete to withdraw from the Winter Games, which will take place February 4-20.
In an open letter to the Olympic community published in September, IOC President Thomas Bach emphasized the Games’ mission to “unite the world through peaceful competition”.
“The Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 comes at an important moment to bring the world together in the Olympic spirit of peace, solidarity and unity,” said Bach. “Once again, it will be the athletes from these Olympics who will send this message of the unifying power of sport to the world.”
Last month, Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) President John Coates criticized the boycott calls and confirmed that Australian athletes would take part in the Winter Games in Beijing.
“We must respect the sovereignty of the countries hosting the Games,” Coates told Australia’s National Press Club. “We have no opportunity to go into a country and tell them what to do … that is not our mission.”
Coates, who is also IOC Vice President, added: “[Being] unite in competition, live together, exchange opinions, share their life stories and dreams – it really matters. What is even more important is that the rest of the world sees this. To see how the Olympics create an atmosphere of friendship, of understanding, of respect and of solidarity. “
There has been a seemingly universal enthusiasm among athletes to be a part of Beijing 2022. One of the high-profile stars who has given a diminutive support to the games is the reigning MVP for the National Hockey League, Connor McDavid.
“Just being able to represent Canada at the Olympics and compete for a gold medal would be an absolute dream come true,” McDavid said after being selected to participate in his first Olympics.
Tampa Bay Lightning defender Victor Hedman is just as eager to represent his native Sweden in Beijing.
“The Olympics are one of my biggest dreams and I have not been able to participate in one – this may be the last chance I get,” said the 30-year-old.
Double Olympic gold medalist and alpine World Cup skier Mikaela Shiffrin criticized those who said she should consider skipping the games.
“The Olympics are big, and it’s something you shoot for, and you do not want to miss it,” said the 26-year-old American.
Schiffrin added that the Beijing Winter Olympics “can actually give hope to the world in a very difficult time.”
Retired American skater Apolo Ohno said his countrymen should focus on sports expertise and not politics.
“My passion for sports goes beyond boundaries and the politicized conviction is something I hold dear,” said the eight-time Winter Olympic medalist.
“I just want to see the purity of sports again. We want to see and celebrate and cheer for our country’s men and women who go and compete, no matter where the Olympic Games are held,” he added.
Pierre de Coubertin, the man credited with founding the modern Olympic Games, once said that “the most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win without participating.”
It would be a great shame if this were forgotten as the world prepares for a post-pandemic celebration of sporting expertise, friendship and mutual respect.