House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) deviated from what has become the mainstream position of prominent Republicans on the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in an interview with Breitbart News this week, asserting true “leadership” would require moving the event out of China.
Prominent Republicans such as former President Donald Trump and Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) have opposed boycotting the Beijing Olympics despite the well-documented evidence of gross human rights violations under the Chinese Communist Party regime, including genocide. The Republicans have argued that the 1980 boycott of the Moscow Olympics “failed,” without elaborating, and that not sending athletes to China would hurt the athletes, despite their presence in the capital exposing them to arguably the most dangerous outbreak of Chinese coronavirus anywhere in the world today.
Human rights activists and members of communities persecuted by the Chinese communist regime have for months urged countries to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics or for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to relocate the event. The IOC has not budged and only one country has committed to boycotting the Olympics: North Korea, which issued a statement saying it feared its athletes would be exposed to the massive coronavirus outbreak in its allied country.
The IOC banned North Korea from participating in this year’s Games, so the “boycott” is at best symbolic.
Biden will not back an athletic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, but backed a boycott of Atlanta by the MLB All-Star Game. https://t.co/5M3RFq6GEa
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) December 11, 2021
McCarthy, discussing the Republican agenda heading into the 2022 midterm elections, listed opposition to the Olympics in China among priorities to hold China accountable for causing the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
“When you watch how to deal with China, we came out with a five-step program on how to deal with China to know where COVID [Chinese coronavirus] came from and release all the intelligence, don’t go to the Olympics,” McCarthy explained, “stop gain-of-function from going to any other country, holding them accountable.”
“We’re just going to have the party of the ideas, the party of the parent, and what we’re going to do is you’ll find later this year we will roll out a Commitment to America—a clear contrast on what our policies are versus the one-party rule,” the House minority leader added.
Speaking to the IOC allowing Beijing to host the Olympics a second time – the city hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics and used the geopolitical cache it earned from that effort to engage in a campaign of genocide against the Uyghur people of East Turkistan – McCarthy pointed to the lack of leadership in the White House as fueling the poor effort to oppose this year’s Games.
There's a reason why the world is uniting to boycott the Communist Chinese Genocide Olympics. https://t.co/cUBW8wl5Vn
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) August 31, 2021
“Why would the world reward China with the Olympics again—this will be twice, and it hasn’t been in America—when we know where COVID came from?” McCarthy asked. “Why wouldn’t China want to be the very first to know where it [Chinese coronavirus] originated from? How was it created?”
“To say you’re just not sending diplomats—they probably couldn’t have gone anyway because of COVID. Where is the strong leadership?” McCarthy continued, referring to President Joe Biden’s broken promise not to send diplomats to the event. “Why didn’t the world get together and say ‘we’re going to hold the Olympics but they’re not going to be in China’ and just move it to another location? That would be leadership.”
“But time and again, we’ve watched this president send China the wrong message. Why don’t they hold China accountable?” McCarthy continued.
The Biden administration announced in December a move it called a “diplomatic boycott” of the Beijing Olympics. A “diplomatic boycott” is not a boycott, as athletes would compete in the Games and the politicians not attending have no impact on the actual event. The “diplomatic boycott” would consist of politicians and diplomats simply not going to Beijing, abandoning the athletes to navigate the poor conditions in Beijing on their own.
By the end of the month, the “diplomatic boycott” had collapsed. The Chinese Foreign Ministry announced that American diplomats had requested visas to enter China specifically to attend the Winter Olympics, a claim the Biden administration confirmed.
Supporting the Beijing Olympics, some Republicans have argued, is necessary to avoid harming the ambitions of American athletes.
“Jimmy Carter boycotted the Olympics in 1980. It was a dismal failure; it didn’t work,” Sen. Cruz told Breitbart News last month. “And I don’t think it’s fair to punish a bunch of young athletes — young men and women — who have spent their entire lives training for just this brief moment to compete on the international stage.”
Former President Trump similarly told Breitbart News the 1980 boycott was “terrible,” without elaborating, and dismissed not participating in a sports event hosted by a genocidal government as weak.
“There are much more powerful things we can do than that, much, much more powerful things. That’s not a powerful thing. It almost makes us look like, I don’t know, sore losers,” Trump said.
He did not identify any “much more powerful things” he would do instead of not attending the event. As president, Trump referred to genocidal dictator Xi Jinping as his “friend” and hosted him at his luxury resort, Mar-a-Lago.
Sen. Rubio, who has spearheaded efforts in Congress to keep products made by slaves in China out of the country, has similarly claimed that not gracing China with American participation in the Olympics would be “punishing the athletes.”
Some athletes have shown signs that forcing them to choose between their careers and supporting genocide is its own form of punishment.
“These are horrifying human rights abuses that we’re seeing happening. And it can feel very powerless when you read those things, because you think, ‘What can I do?’” American figure skater Timothy LeDuc told reporters this weekend after cementing his position on the U.S. team. LeDuc went further than nearly every athlete involved in the Olympics by categorically condemning the genocide of the Uyghur people.
“What I can say is we absolutely acknowledge the horrifying things that we’ve seen happening to the Uyghurs. I read somewhere the other day that it’s the largest number of people held in internment and labor camps since World War II,” LeDuc said.
American snowboarder Shaun White, at his peak the face of the Winter Olympics in America, recently posed for a photo with a Tibetan flag. While White has not condemned human rights abuses in China with a statement at press time, possessing a Tibetan flag at all is a crime in China and, given the cultural genocide of Tibetans in their occupied region, a statement of opposition to the regime.