Former Secretary of State Michael Pompeo urged Americans to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics to be held in Beijing, China, calling them the “Genocide Olympics,” for the Chinese Communist Party’s treatment of minority Muslim Uyghurs in the country and its repression of free speech.
“I don’t think we should have any American go and participate in the Genocide Olympics,” he said Tuesday during the inaugural session of the Richard Nixon Foundation’s Nixon Seminar that he co-chaired with former National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.
He also cited the risks to American athletes who may run afoul of Chinese laws and end up in jail. “How you would send your child there to compete when if they said so much as, ‘Boy, is the food is bad here,’ you can end up in a Chinese prison for an awfully long time?”
Pompeo quipped, “I hope we’ll convince the [International Olympics Committee] not to hold them there and find another solution. We figured out how to move an All-Star game pretty quickly. Maybe we can figure out how to move the Olympics.”
The State Department this week backed away from a suggestion that U.S. officials could boycott the games.
Tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel, who was a guest at the seminar, predicted that Western leaders would refrain from going, even without a boycott.
“Maybe our athletes will go. I don’t think you’re going to have many political leaders from the Western world,” he said. “And it will, you know, like maybe it’s not a full boycott like the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. But I think it will be anti-climactic. It will be, the turnout, the validation for China will be, you know, it will be as bad as Sochi in 2014. That’s even with no boycott at all.”
O’Brien predicted that corporate America would support the Olympics, however, despite criticizing voter ID laws passed in Georgia.
“It’s amazing how quickly the corporate America can justify a move from Atlanta to Denver. But it’s perfectly prepared to continue to support events in China. So it’s an area of real concern,” he said.
He also said during his time as the former hostage envoy in the Trump administration, he saw China’s behavior worsen on detaining foreign nationals similar to Iran.
“I think anyone has to be very concerned and has to think twice about why you’re going to China, what you’re going to do there. If you want to take the risk of having an extended stay as a guest of Mr. Xi Jinping,” he said.