Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., the top-ranking Republicans on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, sent a letter Thursday to the International Olympic Committee, calling for the organization to postpone the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing, and to ban the team from that country from participating due to reports of genocide by the Chinese government.
''Taking a stand against genocide is a moral decision, not a political one, and no exemption exists for the IOC when it comes to responsibility for moral decisions,'' the lawmakers wrote in the letter. ''Moral neutrality is a contradiction in terms. What is being asked of you is to refuse to dignify the PRC authorities with the honor of hosting the Olympics Games in their capital when those same authorities are actively carrying out a genocide.''
The United States has accused China of committing genocide against the Uyghurs in the western region of Xinjiang province.
According to a BBC story from June, the Uyghurs have a population of around 12 million, and are mostly Muslim.
They have their own language but make up only half of the region's population.
Among the allegations of human rights violations against the Uyghur population are reports that they have been rounded up and put in ''re-education'' camps where they are abused and raped in the custody of Chinese government.
With the games opening in just four months, the IOC is facing a backlash from some sponsors for not doing more in the face of the possible atrocities being committed by the Chinese.
''Our responsibility is to deliver the Games, which are an amazing thing for the world,'' IOC spokesman Mark Adams told The Associated Press in July. ''That is our responsibility. It is the responsibility of others — the United Nations, who have been very supportive of the Olympic Games, and governments to deal with this — and not for us. Given the diverse participation in the Olympic Games, the IOC has to remain neutral. That's clear.''
The letter from Rubio and Smith took issue with that declaration.
''More could be said about how Beijing has betrayed the spirit of the Olympic Charter and IOC Code of Ethics, but the point need not be belabored,'' the letter said. ''The IOC knows what needs to be done because the IOC has done it before. The IOC banned the Russian team for four years in 2019 because of doping. The IOC banned the Indian team in 2012 because of corruption issues. The IOC banned the Afghan team in 2000 in part because of the Taliban's discrimination against women and girls.
"If those types of misconduct are grounds for banning a team from the Olympics, surely genocide more than warrants the same response.''
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