Testimony before the UN Human Rights Council’s 47th Session delivered by UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer, July 2021.

UNHRC CHAIR: We shall now begin the quadrennial panel discussion on “Promoting human rights through sports and the Olympic ideal.”

CHINA: The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics are great events of the international community. The Olympic spirit transcends national boundaries and is deeply rooted in peoples’ hearts. It will promote countries to strengthen solidarity and meet global challenges together.

VENEZUELA: We appreciate China’s efforts to host the Olympics in Beijing.

RUSSIA: Unfortunately, recently there have been more and more attempts to instrumentalize sport to bring pressure in international politics. On the bassis of alleged human rights violations, certain countries are calling for boycotts of international sporting forums, using the fight against corruption and doping for their own geopolitical ends. We once more emphasize the unacceptability of politicizing sport and interfering in the activities of international sporting organizations.

UN WATCH’S HILLEL NEUER: Madam President, we welcome this panel discussion on promoting human rights through sport and the Olympic ideal.

In Resolution 43/18, this Council reaffirmed the potential of leveraging sport and the Olympic ideal for promoting human rights for young people.

The resolution recalled the possibilities of using sport and the Olympic ideal to promote human rights for all.

The resolution encouraged States and national, regional and international sports organizations

to enhance human rights awareness and education.

Madam President, as you know, many human rights groups are seriously concerned about how all of these goals can be achieved at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Human rights activists are protesting China’s hosting of the games. They have urged a diplomatic or straight-up boycott to call attention to Chinese abuses against Uighurs, Tibetans and residents of Hong Kong, including abuses against children.

Will heads of state to go to China, in light of a genocide that is ongoing against the Uighurs, while they’re sitting there in their seats? What moral authority do they have to speak about human rights any place in the world, clapping for the Chinese government as they commit genocide?

Many today in corporate America have declared themselves as supporters of human rights. Yet Bridgestone, Intel, Visa, Airbnb, Coca-Cola, Omega, Panasonic, P&G, Samsung, Toyota will all be represented in Beijing as “Olympic Partners,” the highest level of sponsorship available. Mars-Wrigley will be there, too, handing out Snickers, “the official chocolate of the 2022 Winter Olympics.”

Will corporate sponsors of the games look the other way on China’s gross abuses out of concern for their bottom line?

I thank you.

UN Watch