The Olympic Games, Chinese Politics and Human Rights

Virtual Monday, Jan 31, 2022 2 – 3:30 pm Watch Recording


What are the human consequences of the 2022 Beijing Olympics? Leading up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) claimed that the Games could improve the human rights situation in China. The opposite happened. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) conducted a brutal crackdown on Tibetan rights and freedoms that persists to this day. The CCP also used the 2008 Olympics to build a narrative around Uyghurs as a terrorist threat, which has since been leveraged to justify the use of concentration camps, forced labor, and digital surveillance. Numerous countries and organizations recognize China’s actions against Tibetans and Uyghurs as genocide, but the IOC and its sponsors remain silent on the atrocities in Tibet, Xinjiang, Hongkong, and mainland China. At this point, what does the Olympic movement mean to those who claim to champion human rights? Should there be a minimum human rights standard for Olympic hosts?

Moderator: Johanna Ransmeier, Associate Professor of History and the College, The University of Chicago


Minky Worden, Director of Global Initiatives, Human Rights Watch

MacIntosh Ross Assistant Professor, Kinesiology, Western University, Canada

Zumretay Aierken, Program Manager, World Uyghur Congress

Lhadon Tethong, Director, Tibet Action Institute) 

Teng Biao, Visiting Professor, Pozen Family Ceneter for Human Rights, The University of Chicago 

Sponsors: Center for East Asian Studies and Pozen Family Center for Human Rights