China should be denied its chance to use 2022 Winter Olympics as propaganda tool

FILE - In this Sept. 17, 2019, file photo, Bing Dwen Dwen, the official mascot for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic is revealed at a ceremony at the Shougang Ice Hockey Arena in Beijing. Groups alleging human-rights abuses in China are calling for a full boycott of the Beijing Olympics, which is sure to ratchet up pressure on the International Olympic Committee, athletes, sponsors, and sports federations.  (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)
  • The 2022 Winter Olympics are scheduled to be held in February in Beijing.
  • Holding the Winter Games during a worldwide pandemic has been called into question.
  • Japan is dealing with a record number of COVID cases after hosting the Summer Olympics.

In fewer than six months, the 2020 Winter Olympic Games are scheduled to start in Beijing.

Those Games should not take place. Not in 2022. Not in China.

After the suffering that was just inflicted on Japan, holding another Olympic Games less than six months later, with COVID-19 cases surging around the world, is nothing less than medical malpractice.

The Japan Times reported Monday there were more than 12,000 new COVID-19 cases in that country. That means Japan has topped the 10,000 mark in new cases for seven straight days. The infections in that nation are at record levels a day after the end of the 2020 Olympics.

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It doesn’t take a genius to connect the dots between an influx of thousands of international athletes and officials and the increase in new COVID cases.

Still, the Games went on, despite the opposition of most Japanese citizens, who were quite literally scared for their lives. The reason was simple — money. The nation’s leaders and Olympic organizers had invested too much time and cash to back away from the Games, no matter the cost in infections and deaths.

Now, in just six months, we are faced with similar frightening scenario in China.

The bare minimum that must be done to avoid a pandemic catastrophe is to postpone the Winter Games for a year. That was done for Tokyo Games. It should be done again for the 2022 Winter Games.

Honestly, however, that really is not enough.

Deny China its propaganda stage: The next Winter Games should not be held in Beijing.

China should not be given a world-wide propaganda stage on which it will undoubtedly promote disinformation, conceal its totalitarian abuses and generate outright lies.

A nation with an abysmal record on human rights and climate change, not to mention its still-undetermined role in the spread of the coronavirus, should be not be allowed to host one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events.

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Of course, China will fight tooth and nail to keep the Games, and the IOC has no stomach for such a fight, especially given the billions of dollars at stake. They will make the lame excuse that the Olympics and politics do not mix. One should not impact the other.

Well, at some point, doing the right thing should trump a sporting event, no matter its magnitude.

The boycott option: That leaves the United States and the other western democracies with a clear choice. They can allow their athletes to compete in the Games, while simultaneously biting their tongues about Chinese corruption and exploitation, or they can boycott the Games, and deny the Chinese an invaluable propaganda tool.

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That should have been done in 1936, when the Summer Games were held in Berlin, allowing Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler the opportunity to put a friendly face on the most heinous regime of the 20th century.

It was done in Moscow in 1980 after that nation’s invasion of Afghanistan, and it should be done in 2022 in Beijing.

Cost to be paid by athletes: We understand, there is a cost to be paid by the athletes. After years of training and hard work, some will be denied a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Glen Rock’s Summer Britcher, for example, has toiled for the last decade to win an Olympic luge medal. The 2022 Games may be her last chance to reach that goal.

Unfortunately, however, the time has come to make a strong and clear statement to the Chinese government that there is a cost to be paid for continued injustice.