(Feb. 2) A coalition of Olympic athletes is, quite admirably, planning to boycott the opening ceremonies of the games in Beijing, but there’s something additional they can do that would have an even greater effect.

When they return to their home countries after the competition, they should speak out, both individually and en masse, against the manifold human rights abuses by the Communist Chinese regime.

The athletes from at least two (and probably many more) nations will avoid the ceremonies “to show solidarity and compassion toward the Uyghur, Tibetan, Hongkonger, and Mongolian communities that have suffered unimaginable human rights violations by the hands of China’s Communist Party,” Dorjee Tseten, the executive director of Students for a Free Tibet, told Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin.

This is good. The Red Chinese surely plan to use the ceremonies for propaganda purposes. If the boycott is widespread, then not only will the propaganda effectively be muted, but it may be reversed into a significant embarrassment for the malevolent hosts.

Nevertheless, as part of a silent and nameless form of protest, the ceremony no-shows can accomplish only so much. It’s hard to give voice to the voiceless without using an actual voice.

As it is, China is putting all sorts of restrictions on the winter athletes, some (but not all) in the guise of fighting the coronavirus that China’s own negligence and coverups unleashed upon the whole world. Two weeks ago, a top Chinese official said that “any behavior or speeches that are against … Chinese laws and regulations are also subjected to certain punishment.” In sum: Forget free speech. Even when the whole world is watching, China proudly proclaims itself a totalitarian regime.

The best recourse would have been for all nations of the free world to boycott the whole Chinese Olympics. Yet, because none of the national governments had the principles to boycott, the athletes have good reason to make clear their participation in no way means they like being used as the propaganda pawns of a cruel dictatorship…. [The full column is here.]


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