Activists aim to derail Beijing's bid for Winter Olympics

Wed Jul 29, 2015 11:42pm EDT
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By Sui-Lee Wee

BEIJING (Reuters) - Human rights activists are stepping up efforts to derail Beijing's bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, hoping their protests and petitions can thwart what appears to be almost certain victory for the Chinese capital.

Beijing, which hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics Games, hopes to beat Almaty, Kazakhstan, and win the 2022 Winter Olympics, when a decision is made on Friday in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.

But five groups opposing Beijing's bid have appealed to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) urging it not to award Beijing the Games.

"China is now facing a human rights crisis with a scale of violations that is unprecedented since 2008," U.S.-based Chinese rights activists Rose Tang and Gu Yi said in a letter last week to the IOC.

Like other campaigners, Tang and Gu said human rights have deteriorated in China since Beijing held the 2008 Games. The last two years under President Xi Jinping's administration have been marked by a sweeping crackdown on dissidents, activists and human rights lawyers.

"If the IOC awards the games to Beijing, it sends a signal, a message to the entire world, that it's the right thing to encourage a dictatorship which violates human rights blatantly on a larger and larger scale," Tang told Reuters.

China has long argued that it is unfairly singled out for criticism of its rights record and says other governments should examine their own records before making accusations.

"At a time when the Chinese people are looking forward to a successful and exciting Winter Olympics, a few people with ulterior motives are politicizing the Olympic Games," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement to Reuters.   Continued...

Participants hold a flag bearing the bidding logo of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, during a event to gather signatures to support Beijing's bid, at a park in Beijing, China, February 8, 2015.  REUTERS/Stringer