2022 Winter Olympics

Beijing Winter Olympics: IOC expresses no regrets over China as hosts

Published : December 15, 2021 16:01 IST

Visitors pose for photos near a column with the Olympic Rings as they visit the top level of the Olympic Tower in the Olympic Green near the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, on December 11, 2021 in Beijing, China. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

IOC senior member Dick Pound said China would allow athletes to speak freely during news conferences.

Senior International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound on December 13 said there was "nothing wrong with China" from a sporting perspective after a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Games by leading Western countries. The United States, Canada, the U.K. and Australia have banned their officials from attending the Beijing Winter Olympics over human rights violations. China has called the move "political posturing" with the event set to get underway on February 4.

Politics not part of IOC decision

Pound told Germany radio station Deutschlandfunk that politics does not come into any decision concerning the award of Olympics events to a country. "In the sense of having a host country that could organize and put on an excellent Games from a Games perspective, there's absolutely nothing wrong with China," Pound said. "It's a very good and very organized country," he added.

Pound explained that the awarding of the Winter Olympic Games was done "on the the basis of the importance of the country as a sporting nation and its ability to organize Games at the level that the world now expects." He added that the decision to choose Beijing was not made "as an indication that we support the political objectives of that country."

China to ensure freedom of speech

Pound said that China's Olympic Organizing Committee would allow athletes to speak their mind at press conferences on issues like the Uyghur Muslim minority camps. U.S. President Joe Biden has accused China of genocide and human rights groups want all diplomats to pull out of the event. "The organizing committee has given that guarantee that there will be freedom of speech for athletes," said Pound. According to IOC rules, competitors cannot make protests during sporting events or medal ceremonies.

China has denied human rights violations in the Xianjang province, branding the diplomatic boycott "political manipulation." European countries like Germany and France have held back from pulling officials out of the event, instead preferring to use the occasion to pursue dialogue with China.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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