STATEMENT: EQUITYSPORT BOYCOTTS BEIJING 2022
The international equality-in-sport charity, equitysport, has made a statement confirming the organisation will boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 due to the ongoing Uyghur genocide.
Photo: Kuzzat Altay
equitysport exists to advance equality, promote diversity and extend equal opportunity in and through global sport. In all that we do, we are led by our values. At the core of our mission is the inherent belief that all people are born equal in status and in rights.
Through global sport, we believe that the principles of equality, diversity, and equal opportunity can be realised universally, not as some sort of ethereal aspiration, but as an everyday reality.
On 4th February 2022, The Olympic Games, one of the biggest, most important and most influential cultural events on the planet, will take place in a country that, according to the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, the Netherlands, and France is actively committing genocide in the Xinjiang region against the Uyghur people.
We believe that genocide, and the systematic suppression, curtailment and removal of peoples human rights based on their ethnicity, belief or where they come from is the antithesis of equality.
The decision to host the Winter Olympics in China at the current time runs counter to the future sporting world that equitysport exists to create; one where all people, no matter who they are or where they come from are valued and celebrated as equals.
In good conscience, we, as an organisation cannot simply turn our heads and look the other way as the values of sport are undermined and subverted. We are not prepared to compromise our own values by supporting, commenting or engaging with the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Throughout the Games, our logo will turn blue to mirror the Kökbayraq as a show of solidarity to the Uyghur people.
Further, for the duration of the Games, we are inviting our supporters to consider diverting their donations from equitysport to the Stop Uyghur Genocide campaign. We have provided links on how supporters can do that below.
Beijing 2022 was an opportunity for the IOC to showcase the diplomatic strength of the Olympic movement as a vehicle for engagement and progress towards its stated, and much celebrated values, including the principles of universalism and equality. It was an opportunity to hold China accountable to their human rights record since the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008, and to send a clear message that should a country seek to host the Olympic games, that the subversion of their associated values through sports washing will not be tolerated.
The IOC has instead chosen the path of enablement, falling back on misguided, and largely ineffective PR exercises and claims to political neutrality to distract and insulate itself from criticism.
We understand the principles of engagement and appeasement and why they are important to the Olympic Movement; they remain key components of how the IOC can exercise effective diplomacy in ways that other institutions can’t; but conciliatory diplomacy must never be confused with cosy enablement.
We, at equitysport, are not proponents of boycotts as a credible theory of change in normal circumstances, nor do we seek to polarise or shut down debates around issues relating to equality and diversity through disengagement.
However, in this extraordinary and exceptional case, and with active efforts by both the IOC and the Chinese Government to silence and suppress dissent during the Games, we see no other option but to take a principled stand, outline our position and then stand aside to allow organisations better placed to talk authoritatively about the Uyghur Genocide to take centre stage.
They do so with our support and our solidarity.
Prior to the start of the Beijing Winter Olympics, Tim Harper, equitysport Executive Director added:
“Sport acting as an enabler to regimes committing genocide is not a future for global sport that we subscribe to, nor one that we will passively accept. For us, sport only serves any utility to society when it lives true to its stated values.
If equitysport were to support or engage with these Olympic Games, that could be seen as tacit endorsement of both the decision to award the Games to Beijing and the flagrant disregard for the universal application of human rights by the Chinese government.
Whilst the IOC have made a conscious decision to turn their heads to the plight of the Uyghur people, and to the Chinese government’s record on human rights to ensure a lucrative Games can go ahead, that is not a compromise we are prepared to make ourselves.
Sport can do better, and if it seeks to maintain or build any level of social or cultural relevance in a fast-changing world, sport must do better - the time for noble sentiment followed by inaction has long passed.
It’s time for global sport to walk the walk.”
For the duration of the Winter Olympics, we are asking our supporters to consider diverting or splitting their usual donations to equitysport to the Stop Uyghur Genocide Campaign UK.
equitysport is a values-led registered charity (1189559) that exists to advance equality, promote diversity and extend equal opportunity in and through global sport. We seek an inclusive and equitable sporting ecosystem that lives true to the values of sport.
For interviews or further comment from equitysport, please contact the team via firstname.lastname@example.org