Beijing Olympics 2008 vs. 2022: No lofty promises this time

The 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics showcased China’s re-emergence on the world stage. When awarding those Games to China, International…

The 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics showcased China’s re-emergence on the world stage. In awarding those Olympics to China, the International Olympic Committee predicted the Olympics could improve human rights, and Chinese politicians allude to the same.

This time with no lofty promises as the Beijing Winter Olympics kick off in just over a week amid a two-year pandemic.

The Olympics are a reminder of China’s rise, but also its disregard for civil liberties, which has led to a diplomatic boycott led by the United States, which has called China’s disobedience. The nation’s arrest of at least 1 million Uyghurs is a crime of genocide.

Human rights groups have documented forced labor, mass detention and torture, which China calls “the lie of the century”.

With more political, economic and military influence, China seems less worried about global surveillance than it was 13 and a half years ago. And the pandemic has made it even more controlling than the Olympics, especially given the isolation of visiting journalists, segregated in a “bubble” from the general Chinese population.

“There is nothing to ‘prove’ at this point; 2008 was a ‘coming out’ party and all this party did was confirm what we’ve known for the past decade,” said Amanda Shuman, a China researcher at the University of Freiburg , wrote in an email to the Associated Press.

“If there is, the pressure is a lot less than it was in 2008. The Chinese government knows very well that its global economic superiority allows it to do whatever it wants,” she said.

The IOC has little choice when it comes to awarding China the Second Games. Six possible European candidates, led by Norway and Sweden, have bowed for political or cost reasons. Voters in two other countries – Switzerland and Germany – voted “no” in the referendums.

The IOC members ultimately chose Beijing over Almaty, Kazakhstan, in a close vote – 44-40. Results were released on paper ballots after the IOC said there had been an electronic glitch in the first vote. Beijing became the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics.

IOC President Thomas Bach called Beijing the “safe choice”. China spent more than $40 billion to host the 2008 Olympics. The authoritarian state does not need voter approval to proceed.

For Kazakhstan, this month has been hit on the eve of the Olympics with massive protests and political unrest.

The IOC has allowed China to avoid human rights surveillance. Starting with the 2024 Paris Olympics, cities must adhere to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. However, China was not subject to those rules when it was chosen in 2015.

“When China hosts the Olympics again, it is no longer the China of 2008,” Ai Weiwei, a prominent Chinese dissident artist, wrote in an email to the AP. Who helped design the famous Bird’s Nest stadium – hoping it would signify a new openness – and then regretted doing so, calling it and the Olympic Games “fake smiles” of China.

Who was jailed in 2011 in China for unspecified crimes and what it was like to live in exile in Portugal. Bird’s Nest will once again hold its opening ceremony on February 4.

“China today has deviated further from democracy, press freedom and human rights, and the reality has become even harsher,” added Ai.

Here are some examples showing how strong China’s tone has become.

In 2008, Beijing restricted broadcasting from Tiananmen Square but allowed it; consent to “protest zones”, even though they are never used with persistently denied access; and removed some reporting restrictions more than a year before the Olympics. It also unlocks the censored internet for journalists.

In 2022, there will be less accommodation available. The pandemic will limit journalists to a sealed “bubble”, although there will be internet access. Chinese organizers have warned foreign athletes that any statements that go against Chinese law could be punished, and a smartphone app is widely used by athletes Campaigners and reporters have glaring security holes, according to an internet watchdog.

Several national Olympic committees have advised teams and staff not to bring cell phones or personal laptops to Beijing. The IOC, which generates billions of dollars from sponsorships and broadcast rights, rarely openly protests against the Chinese organizers, in fact, the Chinese government.

The changes affecting 2022 begin a month after the 2008 Olympics ended as the global financial crisis hit world economies. China has better results than most, which – along with the Olympics – has boosted their confidence. This also coincides with the rise of Xi Jinping, who topped the 2008 Olympics and was elected General Secretary of the Communist Party of China in 2012.

Xu Guoqi, who teaches history at the University of Hong Kong, said: “Although Mr. Xi was in charge of the 2008 Olympic Games, the Winter Olympics were really Xi’s Games. He is the author of “The Olympic Dream: China and Sports, 1895-2008.”

Mary Gallagher, director of the Center for China Studies at the University of Michigan, said the US state of democracy and its “poor pandemic response” had continued to encourage China.

“Right now, the failures of the United States create momentum for new nationalism and confidence in China,” Gallagher said by email. “This is made more effective by the Communist Party’s tight control over information, which can create ‘positive energy’ for what is happening in China while only making public resources available to the public. negative accounts of other countries, especially the US”

In 2008, China complained that human rights protests around Tibet had politicized the Olympics. The Olympic torch relay, carried out on a world tour, has been met with violent protests in London and elsewhere. The IOC has not attempted such a relay since, and then-President Jacques Rogge said the protests had plunged the Beijing Olympics into “crisis”.

China again says the Olympics are only about sports, a shield that Bach of the IOC also used against critics. China considers political inclusion contrary to the Olympic Charter, although it was China who got involved in politics by boycotting the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Laura Luehrmann, a China expert at Wright State University, said in an email: “Sports and politics are intertwined. “Politics is about the allocation and use of limited resources – most notably power and decision-making, but finance as well. Sport is all about power and money – even when framed as glorifying sporting achievement.”

Victor Cha, who served in the White House under President George W. Bush and is the author of the book “Beyond the Final Score – Sports Politics in Asia,” said China groans about the others politicize sport as “the pot that calls the kettle black. ”

Father, a lecturer at Georgetown University, wrote in an essay last week for the Center for Strategic & International Studies last week: “No country has ignored the Olympic Charter’s provision of political containment. more out of sport than China.

“Many times the world wants the Olympics to be free of politics, as George Orwell once wrote: ‘Sport is war but shooting.'”


AP Sports writer Stephen Wade reported for the Associated Press from Beijing for two and a half hours before and after the 2008 Olympics.


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James Brien

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