Sat, 13 Aug 2022

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The Olympic Games is an event for athletes across the world, not politicians.

BEIJING, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- In a move sure to cast shame on themselves, Britain, Australia and Canada followed the United States in announcing that they will not send government officials to the Beijing Winter Olympics over what they claimed to be China's human rights violations.

Sports don't just exist for sports' sake -- their potential to unite and educate has always been there. But make no mistake: the Olympic Games is an event for athletes across the world, not politicians.

The success of each Olympic Games requires the joint efforts of the entire Olympic family and does not depend on the attendance of officials from individual countries.

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According to the Olympic conventions, government officials from various countries are normally invited to attend the Olympic Games by their own Olympic committees. There is no diplomatic obligation at all on heads of state to attend an Olympic Games.

The American-led diplomatic boycott of the Games is absurd on face value, as no invitations have been extended by China. How could you boycott something to which you were not invited?

Obviously, some western politicians have been grandstanding.

The decision of government officials to attend the 2022 Winter Olympics is linked to human rights issues. The essence of such an act is to politicize sports under the banner of human rights, which obviously violates the Olympic Charter, especially the principle of "political neutrality of sports."

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As the Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova pointed out, the United States is attempting to undermine the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing through "political and misinformation" campaigns.

Such an act is not new, though it is rare. In 2014, heads of state from America and several other western countries stayed away from the Sochi Winter Olympics over alleged human rights abuses and geopolitical disputes.

Obviously, for some western politicians, it's more about using sport to push their own agendas than engaging in sports, especially when countries like Russia or China are the host nations of a sporting event. They are targeting the Beijing Winter Olympics based on their ideological prejudice over China.

The greatest thing about the Olympics is that athletes from all over the world come together to compete. They all have the same goal. Either you win or you don't, no matter what your background, race, gender and religion are, you can live in harmony at the Olympic Games. Bringing in politics, as has been the case, divides people.

With the pandemic still plaguing the world after nearly two years, the Beijing Winter Games is expected to help unite the world in the face of crisis.

If boycotting Beijing 2022 was justified on human rights grounds, one shouldn't be surprised when the 2028 Los Angeles Games are met with appeals for a boycott due to systemic racism in the U.S.

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Well aware of the threat of politicizing sports, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has made a plea to separate sports and politics.

"History also shows us what happens if the political neutrality of the Olympic Games is not respected. The ancient Olympic Games came to an end when the Roman emperor Theodosius effectively abolished them for political reasons. It took almost 2,000 years before the Olympic Games could be revived by our founder, Pierre de Coubertin. I hope very much that we all take this lesson of history to heart," Bach said when UN General Assembly adopted the Olympic Truce for Beijing 2022.

It's time to stop mixing politics with sport.

It is vital as it will define the Olympic Games as well as future generations' well-being in the years to come.

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