Major sponsors of the Beijing Winter Olympics must explain why they have remained largely silent about alleged human rights abuses in China as the Games open in less than three months, Human Rights Watch said on Friday.
The human rights group said in a statement that it had contacted all but one of the companies under the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Olympic Partners programme.
Human Rights Watch also contacted NBC, “the US-based media company whose broadcasting rights account for approximately 40% of CIO’s total revenue,” according to the statement.
The only company that responded to the organization is Allianz.
The insurance company replied, “We support the Olympic movement, and our long-term support for its ideals will not falter.”
The Beijing Games begin on February 4.
In its request, Human Rights Watch called on sponsors to raise awareness of the human rights situation in China and to scrutinize supply chains and other processes to ensure that they “do not contribute to human rights abuses.”
Sophie Richardson, China director for the Asia division of Human Rights Watch, said.
Among the major sponsors at the time the letter was sent were: Airbnb, Alibaba, Allianz, Atos, Bridgestone, Coca-Cola, Intel, Omega, Panasonic, Procter & Gamble, Toyota and Visa.
In total, major sponsors donated nearly $1 billion to the IOC during the 2013-2016 Olympic cycle, a number that is expected to double when the full amounts for the 2017-2020 cycle are released. This cycle has been delayed by a year due to the pandemic.
NBC of America represented about 40% of CIO’s revenue during the 2013-2016 cycle.
The human rights group’s statement comes just three days after a global labor group released a scathing report that questioned the merits of holding the Games in China due to allegations of genocide and crimes against humanity that allegedly occurred in Xinjiang, northwest China.
ITUC Report “China: Gold Medal for Repression”.
China has repeatedly denied that genocide took place, calling the claim the “lie of the century”. She said the camps in northwest China are for education, not for the arbitrary detention of one million Uyghur Muslims and other religious and ethnic minorities.
For its part, the IOC asserts that its sole objective is sport and that it is not authorized to act in accordance with the policies of a sovereign state. However, the IOC has an observer seat at the United Nations, unlike corporations.
“We have a lot of respect for other organizations that have other goals,” Juan Antonio Samaranch, the IOC member responsible for preparations for Beijing, said earlier this week in response to the ITUC report. “But we believe our responsibility is what it is: to celebrate the Olympic Games as a celebration of humanity as a whole, despite our differences.”
Most of the IOC’s sponsors have adhered to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. It establishes the obligation of states and corporations to respect, protect and fulfill human rights and fundamental freedoms.
However, the IOC did not include these guidelines in its contract with the host city of the Beijing Olympics, but added them to the contract for the Paris 2024 Olympics and future games.
When the International Olympic Committee awarded Beijing the 2008 Summer Olympics, it said the games would improve human rights in China.
“The Chinese authorities’ failure to honor the human rights commitments they made to secure the 2008 Summer Olympics, and their increasing repression since then, clearly shows that this should not be expected. And that the government respects human rights during the 2022 Winter Games,” Human Rights Watch said. Watch.
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