According to IOC President Bach, political interference means the end of the Olympics – SWR Sport

Thomas Bach talks about the Winter Games in Beijing and the importance of human rights in the Olympic movement. He evades when it comes to the oppression of the Uyghurs. In the case of missing tennis player Peng Shuai, Tauberbischofsheimer relies on dialogue.

Biden does not lead, Putin does not lead, Johnson does not lead. The heads of state and government of the USA, Russia and Great Britain have already announced that they will go to the Winter Olympics in Beijing (4-20 February 2022) – or not. The new German government around Chancellor Olaf Schulz is still considering participating in the “diplomatic boycott”.

Olympic political confrontation field

Once again, the Olympics are used as a platform for political regimes disagreements. Boycott advocates criticize Chinese crimes against humanity against the Muslim Uyghur minority in Xinjiang province. In an interview with SWR Sport, IOC President Thomas Bach said that political issues could not be addressed through the IOC. “The Olympics cannot solve political problems that generations of politicians have failed to solve,” Bach said.

German athletes reject boycott

The International Olympic Committee will stay out. The IOC learned its lessons from the 1980 District Games in Moscow and 1984 in Los Angeles. Participation in the Games today is mandatory for National Olympic Committees. Not for politicians. In 2014, then-federal president Horst Koehler did not attend the Winter Games in Sochi due to human rights violations in Russia. The opening ceremony of the Olympic Games seems to have a magnetic effect that attracts or repels – also because the head of the host country opens the Games. The IOC president wants to stick with this, and Bach doesn’t see the opening ceremony as politicizing.

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Not even in Beijing: “We will not change the long and long tradition of the IOC, because this is also a declaration to athletes and to all participants in the Olympic Games that they are welcome in this country.” Tobias Press, vice president of AtletiN Germany, categorically rules out a sports boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics. “We are totally against the sports boycott of the Games,” Prius said Thursday in ZDF morning magazine. Athletes cannot be held responsible for pointing out and protesting human rights abuses in China.

The hosting contract for the 2024 Summer Games includes a human rights strategy paper for the first time.


It is no longer possible to make changes to the contract with Beijing

Bach says that human rights, insofar as they apply to the Olympic Games, are largely enshrined in the Olympic Charter. For the Winter Olympics in Beijing, the Chinese government had already given guarantees in the implementation phase that human rights would be respected, including freedom of expression and freedom of the press. However, the domain refers exclusively to the “sovereign territory” of the Olympic Games. When Bach was asked about crimes against humanity in the so-called re-education camps around which human rights organizations such as the Amnesty International report revolve, Bach replied only by referring to the IOC’s political neutrality: Olympic committees all meet with the same political opinion or the same political system, Then this will be the end of the Olympic Games as they were created and whose mission, as I said, is to bring everyone together.”

A subsequent change to the host contract (which all applicants must sign before the election, editor’s note) cannot be made in Beijing 2022 either. According to Bach, changes to the terms and conditions, which are often modified afterwards, are only related to technical details.

Winter Sports Aid for Sport in Afghanistan

The International Olympic Committee can show remarkable successes in Afghanistan. After talks with extremist Taliban rulers, the IOC could provide nearly 600,000 euros in “winter sports aid” for Afghan sports. 300 members of the Olympic community have already managed to leave the country on humanitarian visas.

The fragile situation surrounding tennis player Peng Shuai

When Bach talks about the Chinese tennis player Bing Shuai, who disappeared in mid-November, phrases such as “physical integrity is the highest human right” and “this is our humanitarian mission here” are used. In early November, three-time Olympic participant accused former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Qaoli of sexually assaulting her in a social media post. The mail disappeared within 30 minutes, Peng Shuai followed shortly thereafter. Bach was able to speak to her – he is silent about the content and all the other sports officials who attended the video calls were silent with him. Bach is criticized around the world for his insistence on “silent diplomacy”.

Bach “didn’t want to speculate” whether physical safety evidence and humane approaches suggested the talks saved Peng Shuai from the worst. After all, says Bach, “we made it clear to the Chinese side from the start that we would not stop at this first phone call.” Bach, who will then be in Beijing for the Winter Games, has arranged a personal meeting in January. What did he talk to Bing Shuai about? Part of the silent diplomacy is that “this conversation does not necessarily take place in detail in front of a global audience.” If you want someone to open up, says Bach, you must first build trust.

Winter and Summer Games – Beijing is a unique Olympic model

Munich withdrew its bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics at short notice – if the bid were accepted, it would be the first city to host both the 1972 Summer Games and the Winter Games.

So far is Beijing, which will host the 2022 Winter Games after the 2008 Summer Games. In 2015, Chinese Olympic applicants promised 300 million Chinese to make winter sports more palatable, says Bach: “So far we can see that they are living up to the standard.” This number and that we have Olympic Games, it can be said that there will be winter sports, there will be Winter Olympics, and there will be winter sports after these Olympics.”

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