Lausanne (DPA) – Shortly before the Winter Games kick off in Beijing, the Bing Shuai affair no longer deters Thomas Bach.
In the midst of debates over a US diplomatic boycott of the Olympics over human rights abuses in China, the IOC chief wants to stick to the gentler course toward the Games’ host, despite all the criticism. “From our point of view, silent diplomacy is a promising path that we will continue to follow,” the IOC president said in an interview with DPA.
Global concern for the safety of tennis player Peng Shuai, who has accused a prominent Chinese politician of sexual assault, recently caused the International Olympic Committee to find it difficult to explain. Unlike the Women’s Tennis Association, which initially suspended all tournaments in China, the ring circuit did not mention Peng Shuai’s allegations, nor were there any public requests from the IOC for clarification. “I can assure you that all aspects of this issue will be discussed with the Chinese side,” Bach now said.
pressure is increasing
However, political pressure on the IOC and China continued to mount nearly two months before the opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing. The US government’s announcement that it will not send diplomatic or official representatives to the Winter Games has sparked discussions about who will host the Games. The US cited the “genocide” in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region and other human rights abuses in China as a background. This is a purely political discussion. On the issue of such a boycott, Bach said the IOC was politically neutral on the issue.
The summit of the future federal government made up of the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Free Democratic Party left the door open on whether they would join the US move. One will advise carefully and make decisions in an international context, designated Chancellor Olaf Schultz (SPD) at a joint press conference with Green Party leader Robert Habeck and FDP President Christian Lindner in Berlin. Schulz emphasized that there would be continuity in German foreign policy.
In response to several questions, Schulz emphasized regarding a possible Olympic boycott of the Games in China: “We believe it is important that everything be done to ensure that the world can work together internationally.”
China responds with harsh criticism
Green party foreign politician Omid Nouripur demanded that Germany join the United States. “With the massive violations of human rights we are witnessing there in China, it is necessary to send a clear signal,” the party leadership candidate said on RBB’s Inforadio.
China strongly criticized the US government’s decision. Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Tuesday in Beijing that Washington should stop politicizing sports.
IOC President Bach’s argument looks very similar. With the Olympics, Würzburg said, the IOC could not resolve major political disputes. This is an exaggerated expectation. The IOC does not have the power or the means to change political systems. “The political neutrality of the IOC and the Games applies here,” Bach said.
Not a strong sign
For the Games, at least, Bach emphasized, the IOC wants to live up to its responsibility. This means: “No discrimination, freedom of the press, open Internet, freedom of expression for athletes.” The IOC is not responsible for political change, as some had hoped for the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. “The Olympics cannot solve problems that generations of politicians have not,” Bach said.
There will be no strong signals from the WTA leaders about their concerns about Peng Shuai with Bach’s IOC. “The WTA went its own way and made its decision. Many other sports organizations chose a different path. The paths could be different, but the goals could be the same,” Bach said.
The Athleten Deutschland ruled differently: “The questionable handling of Peng Shuai has renewed our doubts about the IOC’s motives.”
The president of the International Olympic Committee explained in the strictest confidence that after the video session with the tennis player, not much was informed about the current conditions and the allegations of Peng Shuai. “Talking with her affected me a lot. It is not easy to have such a very personal conversation over video,” Bach said. The 1976 Olympic fencing champion disputed fears that the IOC might quickly lose interest in Peng Shuai after the Winter Games. We will continue this humanitarian approach. “The Winter Games will not be the end point,” Bach said.
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