Words like Uyghur detention camps, Tibet, and Hong Kong, and certainly not genocide, were unspoken by Olympic officials across three days of debate broadcast online, and three news conferences that wrapped on Friday. Instead, the IOC praised Beijing’s Winter Games preparations and announced a vaccine diplomacy deal with China to help inoculate athletes worldwide. Pressed on if the Olympic movement had dismissed the activists’ causes, newly re-elected IOC president Thomas Bach stressed the limits of its political role.
“We are not a super-world government where the IOC could solve or even address issues for which not the UN security council, no G7, no G20 has solutions,” Bach said at a news conference on Friday. This insistence on political neutrality has frustrated campaigners uniting around Olympics they have branded “Genocide Games” for the treatment of China’s Muslim minority Uyghur people in the western Xinjiang region.