International Olympic Committee responds to ongoing tensions regarding Beijing 2022

Several countries are considering diplomatic boycotts of upcoming Games as pressure mounts on China to confirm location of tennis player Peng Shuai

FILE PHOTO: A Chinese flag flutters near the Olympic rings on the Olympic Tower in Beijing, China November 11, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A Chinese flag flutters near the Olympic rings on the Olympic Tower in Beijing, China November 11, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/File Photo

As the whereabouts of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai and the status of her safety remain unknown, pressure has continued to mount for countries to boycott the upcoming Beijing 2022 Olympic Games.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has finally weighed in on the ongoing situation. On Saturday an IOC spokesperson said, “The IOC appreciates the concerns expressed by so many athletes and National Olympic Committees. We also welcome the support of the IOC Athletes’ Commission for our quiet diplomacy approach. This approach means we will continue our open dialogue on all levels with the Olympic Movement in China.”

Earlier this week U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters the United States is strongly considering a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games. A diplomatic boycott allows for the athletes to fully compete but no government officials would attend.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also considering the same action saying, “an active discussion” is taking place with Foreign Minister Liz Truss being in favor of a boycott.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks virtually with Chinese leader Xi Jinping from the White House in Washington, U.S. November 15, 2021.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks virtually with Chinese leader Xi Jinping from the White House in Washington, U.S. November 15, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Former IOC member Richard Peterkin told Around the Rings isn’t so sure the United States or any country will follow through with boycott threats.

“The IOC has numerous back channels to the leadership in China, so we should not jump the gun. The disappearance of Peng Shuai is worrisome, but China will probably find a way for her to emerge, confounding the critics. Expect more noise from politicians in the U.S., but don’t expect any boycotts. If leaders don’t wish to attend to make a point, that would be great for the Games as it reduces security concerns, and nobody needs them there anyway.” Peterkin said.

Dick Pound is the longest serving member of the IOC, and twice served as vice-president of the IOC under Juan Antonio Samaranch. He would support any government wishing to flex their diplomatic muscle.

“I think it is encouraging governments are no longer considering that Olympic athletes should be sacrificed because governments themselves are unwilling to take their own responsibilities.” Pound told Around the Rings.

Imagen de archivo. EFE/EPA/FILE/RITCHIE B. TONGO
Imagen de archivo. EFE/EPA/FILE/RITCHIE B. TONGO

Peng is the third Chinese tennis player to reach a major semifinal, doing so at the 2014 U.S. Open, and is the one of the most recognizable athletes in China. She has not been seen in public in three weeks since accusing former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of coercing her into sex at this home, according to screenshots of a since-deleted social media post on November 2.

The United Nations has urged an investigation take place and has called for proof of her whereabouts and well-being. The head of the Women’s Tennis Association told CNN they are willing to lose hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business in China if Peng is not fully accounted for and a proper investigation does not take place.