Canadian Athletes May Not Be Safe at Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, Opposition Leader Says

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Canadian Athletes May Not Be Safe at Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, Opposition Leader Says


The leader of Canada’s Conservative opposition party has warned that it may soon be too dangerous for Canadians to travel to China for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Speaking at a press conference on Ontario on Tuesday, leader Erin O’Toole said, “We are approaching a point where it will no longer be safe for Canadians, including Olympic athletes, to stand. go to China.

O’Toole made his comments shortly before Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor was sentenced by China to 11 years in prison for espionage. Spavor was arrested in 2018, days after the arrest in Canada of a senior Huawei executive, Meng Wanzhou, accusing Beijing of engaging in “hostage diplomacy.”

Diplomats from dozens of countries gathered at the Canadian embassy in Beijing on Wednesday to hear Spavor’s verdict. The fate of a fellow Canadian, former diplomat Michael Kovrig, remains unclear.

Meng was arrested in connection with possible trade sanctions violations against Iran.

O’Toole was speaking after a court dismissed the appeal of a third Canadian, Robert Schellenberg, whose prison term in a drug case was sharply increased to death after Meng’s arrest.

Asked about the Winter Games, O’Toole said: “Yes, Canada should consider a boycott.

“And I said we’re going to be watching the decision very closely. Beijing needs to know that the world is watching the genocide unfolding against the Uyghurs. They observed what is happening in Hong Kong and the situation with Mr. Schellenberg, Mr. Spavor and Mr. Kovrig.

He said Canada should think “long and hard about whether we reward a country like this with the Games.”

He called the rejection of Schellenberg’s appeals “a foreign government planning to kill a Canadian for political reasons.” China’s decision was “inexcusable,” he said, and the results of the Spavor and Kovrig cases would help Canadians answer the question of whether traveling to Beijing for the Games was safe.

O’Toole joins a chorus of voices, comprising more than 180 human rights groups, calling for a boycott of the games against massive human rights violations by China.

In an open letter released earlier this year, the coalition of human rights groups – mainly regional associations supporting Tibet, Taiwan, the Uyghur community and Hong Kong – called on governments to boycott the event. to make sure it is not used to “embolden” the Chinese government as they said the 2008 Summer Olympics did.

In response to the letter, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at the time that the boycotts “would not be supported by the international community and would never succeed.”

Human Rights Watch accused the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of failing in its due diligence by failing to conduct a human rights risk assessment.

“The IOC knows that the Chinese authorities are arbitrarily detaining Uyghurs and other Muslims, extending state surveillance and silencing many peaceful critics,” Sophie Richardson, director of Human Rights Watch for China, said in February. .

“Its inability to publicly confront the grave human rights violations committed by Beijing mocks its own commitments and claims that the Olympics are a ‘force for good’.

But the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee said it thought it was more effective for governments to engage China directly on human rights issues, and the boycotts “turned out to have a negative impact on China. athletes without effectively solving global problems ”.

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