Rick Scott urges NBC to demand Winter Olympics be moved from China over human rights abuses 

Rick Scott urges NBC to demand Winter Olympics be moved from China over human rights abuses 
© Greg Nash

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) on Tuesday urged NBC to demand that China be removed as host of the 2022 Winter Olympics over the country’s reported treatment of Uyghur Muslims.

“NBC’s own reporting has detailed the horrors faced by Uyghurs in Xinjiang and the genocide being committed against them by the government of Communist China,” Scott said. “Yet this American network continues to turn a blind eye to Communist China’s atrocities when it comes to allowing Beijing to host the 2022 Olympic Games.”

On May 19, Scott — a longtime critic of China — sent a letter to NBC asking the network to use its influence to have the games moved. 

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In response to Scott’s letter, NBC’s Head of Federal Government Affairs Phil Tahtakran wrote that while the broadcaster conducts its business with respect for human rights, political leaders are in the best position to address human rights globally. 

“NBCUniversal has no role in the selection of cities that host this extraordinary gathering of the world,” he added. “As the U.S. media rights holder of the Olympics, our only role is to broadcast the Olympic and Paralympic Games to a U.S. audience.”

NBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill about Scott’s demands, if it has reconsidered coverage of the Winter Olympics or if it will provide context about China’s human rights record while covering the event.

In his letter to Scott, Tahtakran said Americans would be the only ones hurt if NBC refused to air the games, referring to the athletes as well as their families, friends and fans. 

However, in his letter and his statement detailing Tahtakran’s response, Scott suggested refusing to air the games would be in line with NBC’s previous decision to not air the 2022 Golden Globe Awards. 

In early May, the network announced it would not broadcast the next Golden Globes ceremony because the event’s sponsor, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, "needs time" to undergo "meaningful" changes addressing diversity issues.

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“If NBC is willing to cancel the Golden Globes to support racial diversity, why can’t they take a stand for human rights and demand the relocation of the 2022 games?” Scott asked.

The letter from the Florida senator was the latest of three to NBC asking the company to use its influence to have the games moved. In December 2019, Scott and Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyTrio of Senate Republicans urges Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade Atlanta-area spa shootings suspect set to be arraigned Noem to travel to South Carolina for early voting event MORE (R-Mo.) asked NBC to refuse to air the games if the International Olympic Committee (IOC) didn’t rebid the Olympics to other cities. 

The Florida senator wrote similar letters in October and November. He asked the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to pass a resolution asking the IOC to remove the 2022 games from China.

Others have called for an Olympic boycott. 

In early February, a coalition of 180 human rights groups pleaded with governments globally to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympic Games.

In March, a group representing Uyghur Muslims in China asked the IOC’s ethics commission chair to personally rule on their complaint asking that the games be moved.

However, both the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic committees asked Congress not to boycott the games. The CEO of the U.S. committee Sarah Hirshland, wrote that “an athlete boycott of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is not the solution to geopolitical issues.” 

And in April, the State Department said the U.S. is not considering joining a boycott of the games. “Our position on the 2022 Olympics has not changed. We have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners,” a senior State Department official told The Hill.

-Updated 4:10 p.m.