International

IOC president: Wrong to expect Olympics to ‘fundamentally change’ a country

Associated Press Photo/David Phillip
Dancers perform by lit Olympic rings during the opening ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Summer Games in Beijing, Friday, Aug. 8, 2008.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said on Monday that the Olympics cannot be expected to resolve long standing political issues amid growing criticism about the Winter Games in Beijing in 2022. 

“The Olympics cannot solve problems that generations of politicians have not solved,” Bach said in an interview with DPA, a German news agency, according to Reuters

“The IOC does not have the power and the means to change political systems. The political neutrality of the IOC and the Games applies here,” he added, per Reuters.

Bach questioned “what is our responsibility and what are our limits?” in his interview that came shortly before the U.S. announced a diplomatic boycott of the games on Monday.

“Our responsibility is to run the Games in accordance with the Olympic Charter… and to bring together the athletes from 206 teams and the IOC refugee team under one roof,” he also said, adding that “expecting that Olympic Games can fundamentally change a country, its political system or its laws, is a completely exaggerated expectation.”

Bach noted that the IOC had intentionally remained politically neutral to represent all countries partaking in the games, Reuters reported.

In an announcement on Monday, the Biden administration said it would have a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Games while still offering its “full support” to U.S. athletes who would compete. 

“The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic games given [China’s] ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said to reporters on Monday.

Tags Beijing diplomatic boycott International Olympic Committee Jen Psaki
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