Should the US (and/or other countries) boycott the winter Olympics?

So, not sure if this has been discussed on the board. Apologies if this has been beaten to death already. I was in a discussion over the weekend about this, so thought I’d see what 'dopers thoughts on the subject are.

The arguments for a boycott were basically that, as with the 1936 Olympics, democratic regimes shouldn’t support authoritarian/totalitarian regimes and assist them by giving them bonus propaganda. In 1936 both the US and UK COULD have boycotted…but chose not to. We see how well that worked out. Currently, there is a genocide going on in China. If nothing else, this SHOULD be sufficient reason for the US to boycott the games (there are plenty of others, but this is the one that really puts things over the top).

On the other side, the basic argument that was put forward seemed to be that boycotts don’t accomplish anything except to hurt the athletes, so there is no good reason to boycott the games. Instead, if we have issues with genocide there are other, political means we should be using. The games are about bringing countries together, etc etc. There were also some who were questioning the genocide angle at all or things like forced organ harvesting, but those were in the very small minority who really don’t seem to follow anything happening in China much regardless.

So…thoughts? As I’m sure many here know, I was arguing that the US (and other countries too) should be boycotting the Olympics. It’s hard for me to believe we aren’t, to be honest. I’m hoping to hear some better arguments on that we shouldn’t side than I was getting this weekend, as I’m having trouble understanding why it’s not a debate we are having in this country. It obviously isn’t, since as far as I know there is no serious effort to boycott the Olympics.

The big question is, why the fuck did the Olympic committee okay China in the first place? I suspect corruption.

No, I do not believe we should boycott the Olympics or take any material actions against China for their activities in Xinjiang. While it would not be legal under our constitution, and while our Western ideals of freedom of religious belief would find such activities reprehensible, China is not Western nor do they follow the U.S. constitution. There are a number of Muslim countries that are equally unwilling to allow religious minorities to operate freely in their countries, and I see little effort to ostracize or “boycott” them. Many Muslim countries in the Middle East expelled large numbers of historic Christian and Jewish populations after WWII to little international response.

I bring this up to say that while I take issue with China on many things, I do not think it is productive to boycott them for things we ignore in other countries. If we want to boycott things as a country, we need a coherent, consistent stance, which this would not represent such a stance based on our prior behavior and our other political/economic affiliations abroad.

Yes, this.


On that note though, sure boycott it. Stop treating this crap like it means what it was suppose to mean. The IOC is so corrupt at this point, we should pull out for good.

The only other interested party was Kazakhstan, which isn’t any freer. I think Norway and Sweden chose not to bid because of the enormous expense of hosting.

Another good reason to end this failed institution.

  • Break the committee, no one on it ever allowed to serve again.
  • Go back the roots of the Olympic revival.
  • Ensure the process is cheaper and less harmful to the cities involved.
  • Protect the athletes as the #1 priority from the predators the IOC seems to attract.
  • Or just end it and forget it.

Well, that’s true…genocide is not legal under our Constitution. I don’t think it’s, technically, legal under the Chinese constitution either, but then the Chinese constitution means whatever the CCP thinks it means, so it’s all good.

So, we shouldn’t boycott athletic events in other countries because of genocide because we shouldn’t hold them to our ideals. Ok, that’s definitely not an argument used in the discussion I was in. Most of the arguments I heard were more than a boycott wouldn’t actually do anything so why bother, but yours are interesting.

I believe that Beijing was the only serious bid. That said, corruption is huge in the IOC and has been for a long time. This isn’t even about China…even western countries have gotten in on the action in the past. And it’s not even just the IOC…look at the world cup sometimes, or some of the other international sports organizations and big events.

They didn’t have many other choices. In the end, the only other city that bothered to go through the whole bidding process was Almaty, Kazakhstan, and Kazakhstan is not exactly a beacon of civil liberties, either. It was a close vote though.

The 2024, 2028 and 2032 Summer Games have all been given to democracies, but all because literally no one else wanted them.

This has become a significant issue in recent Olympic bidding cycles – fewer and fewer cities/countries have been willing to compete for the hosting, due to the expense.

For the 2024 Summer Games, there were originally five candidates: Paris, Los Angeles, Rome, Hamburg, and Budapest. The latter three cities all pulled out of consideration between 2015 and 2017, due to local opposition and/or financial challenges. The IOC wound up simultaneously awarding the 2024 Games to Paris, and the 2028 Games to Los Angeles, as there were no other solid candidates on the table.

Excellent ideas.

Nah, boycotting is the worst approach.

The best approach is to show up and smash the medals, totally dominate in the medal count.

I was going to post that eventually we’re going to have no cities to bid at all. However, there is an economic effect at work here; if, say, Toronto or Johannesburg or Kuala Lumpur is the ONLY city offering to host the 2036 Games, then they are in a position to set whatever conditions suit their fancy. It suddenly becomes a more economically advantageous position from which to negotiate. You don’t like our stadium plan? Fuck you, then, hold the Games in the middle of the ocean.

It is generally accepted the only really profitable modern Olympics were the 1984 Los Angeles games; guess what? There were no other bids.

If a totalitarian dictatorship is the only nation submitting bids, then don’t hold the games.

In fact, don’t let them bid in the first place.

Never again! Well, unless we want to play some athletic games (plus money…we like money), then it’s ok.

Yeah, I’d have to say that after the Nazi experience with games held in countries that were doing the whole genocide thingy we should have learned a lesson, and if those are the only choices maybe don’t hold them at all.

No. Boycotting the Olympics only hurts our athletes and does not accomplish political goals. We look the other way all the time when it suits our needs (e.g. Saudi Arabian oil, with their treatment of women, and minorities). I can understand the idea of sticking a thumb in China’s eye this way, since they have emerged as a major competitor, but we attended the Beijing Summer Games and the Sochi Winter Games, so what makes this round any different? China’s been mis-treating it’s people for a long time (Tibet), yet we still do business with them and attend other events. Wanna make a statement? Stop buying oil, and stop buying stuff made in China. I do not like the idea of using athletes as pawns in some international chess game.

To be honest, I’d rather see the United States (and other countries who would agree) start a general boycott of all Olympic games until there is some meaningful reform in the International Olympic Committee rather than a political boycott directed specifically against China.

Let’s face it; China isn’t going to change their ways because of an Olympic boycott. But boycotts might put enough pressure on the IOC to cause some reform. And reform, in turn, might avoid future issues like them scheduling Olympics in countries with bad human rights records.

Yeah, that’s more the argument I was hearing. I kind of disagree though. I think from a propaganda perspective, it DOES hurt regimes like the CCP. I certainly think it hurt the old USSR when there was a boycott against them, and might have contributed to their eventual fall, though maybe just from a minor perspective. I think by going it helps the CCP, especially right now…especially with everything going on. I think, regardless of the effectiveness or lack thereof in the past to boycotts, this time it will make a difference.

Very true, and I agree…we have looked the other way wrt Tibet, Hong Kong, the Wiegers, recently inner Mongolia, organ harvesting, and myriad other things because, well, we like money…and cheap goods. And this isn’t just about China, as you point out…we’ve looked the other way in similar ways for a lot of countries.

That said, this I think rises beyond Saudi Arabia and how they treat their women and minorities…this is actual, real-life, in our time’s genocide happening right now. Should we do better across the board in all our dealings with other countries, letting our ideals drive us instead of money, power, or expediency? Definitely. But maybe that starts now.

I guess the question to ask is…how will I feel if, 5 years from now evidence of something like the Holocaust comes out concerning the Wiegers and yet we blithely went to the Olympics anyway, just like in 1936? Not sure how the people at that time felt about how things turned out, but it will be pretty sickening that it happened now. I get that MMV on this…and not trying to toss around guilt or whatever, it really does vary, and I do think it’s valid to say that boycotts only hurt the athletes and that other things may and perhaps even would be more effective.

Absolutely agree.

I am not familiar with this name, or what “the Wiegers” have done (or had done to them)…please explain? Or, if it’s an auto-correct typo, what is it supposed to be?

Perhaps you know them as the Uyghurs? Ethnic Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang province in north western China?

I basically am talking into a phone, so it might be my accent. I’m not actually sure how ‘wiegers’ is spelled…especially since my spelling is notoriously bad.