Olympics open amid boycotts, protests

A Uyghur skier helped carry the flame to the Olympic cauldron during Friday’s opening ceremony at the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.

The Chinese government’s decision to use a Uyghur in the role was an apparent counter-statement against international censure over the country’s mistreatment of the Muslim ethnic minority group, abuses the United States has declared to be genocide.

Chinese authorities arrested a Hong Kong activist on Friday before his scheduled protest against the “Coffin Winter Olympics.” The 75-year-old planned to demonstrate outside city offices but was arrested under the national security law.

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The International Olympic Committee had repeatedly declined to relocate the Winter Games, with the committee’s president saying it would focus on supporting athletes and “the rest is politics.”

In the United States, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Thursday warned American athletes not to anger the Communist government.

Who is boycotting? India joined other countries in a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Games on Thursday after Beijing chose a Chinese commander involved in deadly fights with Indian forces to be a torchbearer.

Diplomats from the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Australia were noticeably absent from the stands, but President Xi Jinping welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin. After a Friday meeting, Putin said the two countries enjoy “a spirit of friendship and strategic partnership.”

Throughout the ceremony, NBC, which holds exclusive broadcast rights, interviewed experts about human rights abuse allegations against China. Host Mike Tirico opened coverage by reporting on the government’s denial of forced labor and holding a million Uyghurs in reeducation camps.

This story originally appeared in WORLD. © 2022, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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