Beijing Olympics: Support the sport but remember the persecuted
As the Games begin in China, do cheer on your country's athletes but look beyond the sport
04 Feb 22

The Beijing 2022 logo is seen on the Main Press Centre ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/PA Images

]Today the Beijing Winter Olympics begins, and I am angry.

While the world enjoys extraordinary sport and the emotional rollercoaster of a global competition – checking their countries medal table on a daily, if not hourly, basis we know, beyond doubt, that the CCP government of China is persecuting its citizens. It is using every page in the authoritarian leader’s playbook to silence opposition, whether that be in Hong Kong, the Chinese mainland or even beyond its borders, as it tries to prevent those who seek to live freely and true to themselves and their beliefs. And in Xinjiang province their documented acts of genocide against the Uyghur people are just devastating.

I cannot and will not in all good conscience turn the other way and pretend that Beijing is an acceptable place to host the Winter Olympics. To give credibility to a regime that is murdering its citizens because of their faith and detaining others because they engage in democratic protest or dare to document events as journalists.

This is not a regime that warrants global celebration – it deserves unified condemnation.


The participants in the Winter Olympics didn’t get to choose where they were being held. They have trained for the past four years to participate in the Olympics – not the CCP Olympics. It is for this reason that I am a little torn.

Index doesn’t support boycotts – we fight for freedom of expression around the world. We may not agree with the views of the those who are expressing themselves and we may not agree with their creative output but we campaign every day for people to have the right to express themselves freely and without fear or favour. And athletes taking part have done nothing to deserve our censure.

But Index was also established to be a voice for those that were being persecuted by repressive and totalitarian regimes. To campaign against these regimes. To make the case, daily, for freedom of expression as a liberal democratic value.

So, it is in this tradition that Index will be using the days ahead as the Beijing Olympics continues to highlight the CCP’s tactics against both its population and outside its borders. Next week we launch our new Banned by Beijing report – on how the CCP Government is seeking to use every resource at its disposal to silence the Uyghur community that have managed to escape China to the seeming safety of Europe; details of our launch event can be found here.

Every day of the Games, we will also be sharing a story from our archive on social media highlighting how the CCP have been persecuting their people. So, watch the Olympics – enjoy your favourite sport, cheer on your side – but don’t forget what the CCP are doing to their own people – and share the stories of the persecuted every day.