The federal government and the Canadian Olympic Committee can’t ensure the safety and human rights of our athletes if they travel there.
In July 2020, Ottawa issued another advisory when the Chinese Communist regime imposed its arbitrary and draconian National Security Law (NSL) on Hong Kong, warning that Canadians in that city “may be at an increased risk of arbitrary detention on national security grounds and possible extradition to mainland China.”
Since the introduction of NSL, Hong Kong pro-democracy leaders are in jail, acclaimed journalists are prosecuted, elected law-makers are disqualified, and young Hongkongers are risking their lives fleeing the city. Outrageously, Article 38 of the NSL also states that “this Law shall apply to offences under this Law committed against the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region from outside the Region by a person who is not a permanent resident of the Region.” Beijing has essentially claimed jurisdiction over the entire global population, Canadians included.
Just recently, the United Kingdom declared China in “clear breach” of the Sino-British Joint Declaration and said it has “broken its promises and undermined Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy.” Our government, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the COC would be wilfully blind if they trusted Beijing’s promises or reassurances.
When announcing Catriona Le May Doan as Canada’s chef de mission for this Winter Games recently, the COC praised her integrity and said she lived Olympic values. Olympism is “based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles … with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity,” says the Olympic Charter.
Sadly, Beijing shows anything but Olympism.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) practises “hostage diplomacy,” commits genocide and industrial-scale organ harvesting, cracks down on rights lawyers, violates international agreements, breaks solemn promises to its own people, bullies foreign corporations and professionals – and has actually harassed an Olympian, Australian Olympic swimmer Mack Horton. How could Le May Doan lead Team Canada to uphold its integrity and Olympism in a country under such a regime?
No, they don’t have to. They can stand up for human rights and Olympism without dashing their Olympic dreams. Only if Beijing loses the Games will the burden primarily fall on the perpetrators of the worst ongoing human rights violations. The federal government and COC must protect our athletes by pushing the IOC to move the 2022 Games to a free city, one that has held it before if needed. Such cities have the experience, existing facilities and infrastructure to host it again, such as Vancouver-Whistler, for which the costs and preparation time would be much less and the potential financial gains from advertising and tourism much greater. If the new host city needs more time, the 2022 Olympics can be postponed by a year, as was done with Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Games due to COVID-19.
Our two Michaels have held up; there have been no confessions on TV. We can’t let them down. The federal government must protect our athletes by leading the push in demanding the IOC move the 2022 Winter Games out of China. If the IOC won’t, then we should boycott the Games.
Natalie Hui is the convenor of Canadian Friends of Hong Kong. Ivy Li is a core member of Canadian Friends of Hong Kong.
Send a Christmas card to the Chinese Embassy
Post a letter to the Chinese ambassador containing Christmas cards for Canadian detainees Michael Kovrig or Michael Spavor, along with a request that the cards be sent to the prisons where they are being held.
The campaign is a way to express your opposition to Beijing’s hostage diplomacy. The organizers hope embassies will be inundated, and even if the Christmas cards are not passed along to Kovrig and Spavor, diplomatic staff will be assigned to open each one and understand Canadians want their countrymen freed.
Before you send your card, post a picture of it on Twitter, with the hashtag #FreeChinaHostages