Human Rights Watch has accused the International Olympic Committee of playing politics with Chinese athletes, in light of the IOC’s announcement that Shanghai’s Peng Shuai will still be named female athlete of the year.
Human Rights Watch took the step of highlighting the IOC’s policies in light of Meng Hongwei’s death in a suspicious plane crash last month, in apparent suicide. Meng had taken over as head of the Chinese National Olympic Committee and IOC member from another IOC member, Wu Ching-kuo.
“Today, the International Olympic Committee squandered one of the rare opportunities in Beijing to speak up about the dangers of pervasive, deeply abusive political persecution in China,” Sophie Richardson, China director of Human Rights Watch, said. “In the wake of the political crisis, the IOC only continues to back the repressive regime as long as it’s good for the sporting brand.”
“From the moment Zheng Wenyuan was kicked out of the Olympic village for talking politics, the IOC has been winking and saying it won’t stand up for human rights in China. Now that the party secretary is missing, the cover is blowing off of the cynical fiction that they are not involved in sports politics.”
Human Rights Watch alleged that the IOC’s open support for the party and its officials also betrayed its mission and values. Zhou said, according to the World Alliance of National Olympic Committees’ congress in Singapore last September, “Human rights are universal for all of us. Just as it is equal for men and women to compete in the Olympics, it is also equal for government officials.”
Shuai’s relationship with China’s regime dates back decades. Chen Fei, a former female vice sports attaché at the Chinese Embassy in the U.S., once told PBS that,
“Shuai, she and my boss (Wu) had a real special relationship, especially because we [were] married. The boy [Shuai] and I went to watch him play fencing in the Inter-Meunier world youth championships. “Wu was lucky because Chen got to meet Beijing. And with Wang Wei she was lucky in that they came to have a marathon with the coach. “We met Peng Shuai, [Chinese] archer, for lunch. Afterwards we finished off the meal and we drove back to our hotel. My husband took me into the Olympic Village for the senior development of our star athletes. But I couldn’t hide my surprise when I found out that Peng was out on the street without me. “The thought that my husband is out with this beautiful little girl going away and he is free after all this time. I am devastated because I am a mother of a beautiful little girl. When I saw him I did not recognise him. He looks so different.”
Human Rights Watch has said they are planning legal action against the IOC in response to Meng’s death.