Beijing Olympic sponsors must speak up on rights in China: HRW

·1-min read
Activists rallied in front of the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles earlier this month (AFP/Frederic J. BROWN)

Corporate sponsors of February's Beijing Winter Olympics must speak up on rights abuses in China or risk being tainted by association, Human Rights Watch said on Friday.

Preparations for the Games have been overshadowed by the Covid-19 pandemic and calls from rights groups for a partial or full boycott.

New York-based Human Rights Watch is now urging sponsors, which include Intel, Omega, Panasonic, Samsung, Toyota, Visa, Airbnb, Coca-Cola, Allianz and Alibaba, to do more.

HRW said they wrote to sponsors earlier this year but received only one response.

"There are just three months until the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, but corporate sponsors remain silent over how they are using their influence to address China’s appalling human rights record," said Sophie Richardson, HRW's China director.

She accused Games sponsors of "squandering the opportunity to show their commitment to human rights standards" and said they "risk instead being associated with an Olympics tainted by censorship and repression".

The Olympic flame arrived in China last month after a lighting ceremony in Greece which was disrupted by a small number of activists who brandished a Tibetan flag and a banner saying "no genocide".

Human rights campaigners and exiles have accused Beijing of religious repression against the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang, as well as massively curtailing rights in Hong Kong and Tibet.

Beijing has consistently railed against what it calls the "politicisation" of sport, while the International Olympic Committee says that it is not within its remit "to go into a country and tell them what to do".


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