A history-making decision announced today by the International Olympic Committee to award hosting rights for the 2022 Winter Olympics to Beijing has drawn outrage from human rights activists.
The decision, announced today, will make Beijing, where the 2008 Summer Olympics were held, the first city in history to host both the Summer and Winter Games.
“Campaigners say human rights have deteriorated markedly in China since Beijing held the 2008 Summer Games,” Reuters reports. “The last two years under President Xi Jinping’s administration have been marked by a sweeping crackdown on dissidents, activists and human rights lawyers.”
Beijing was picked over Almaty, Kazakhstan, as those two cities were the final contenders following the withdrawal of other hopefuls including Oslo, Munich and Stockholm.
Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, was among those saying the Olympic Committee is sending the wrong message.
“The IOC’s awarding of the 2022 Olympics to China is a slap in the face to China’s besieged human rights activists,” said Richardson. “Over the next seven years, the IOC has enormous work to do in China to win the credibility on human rights that will ensure a successful Olympics.”
Reuters notes that six groups opposing the Beijing effort appealed to the IOC ahead of the announcement to try to convince the committee not to award the Games to Beijing.