Reuters reported former U.S. champion figure skater Adam Rippon said that the International Olympic Committee’s decision to select Beijing as the 2022 Winter Games host was like rewarding China for its bad behavior on human rights.

Rights groups have long criticized the IOC for giving the Games to China, noting the country’s poor treatment of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the western Xinjiang region. The U.S. has labeled this as genocide.

China has consistently denied human rights violations and has stated that it opposes the “politicization” of sports.

Rippon, the bronze medalist at the figure skating competition of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics and the present coach of the 2022 U.S. national champion Mariah Bell at the Beijing Olympics, said the IOC needed to “step up” on human rights and exercise more discretion when choosing hosts.

Rippon told Reuters by phone: “It makes me think of being rewarded for bad behavior.

“I think it’s the responsibility of the IOC to make sure that they award countries Olympic Games that can be a safe place for athletes to go and aren’t giving (athletes) crises like this.”

Rippon said: “Always the hope is that (the Olympics) helps better the hosting nation as well, but I do agree that in light of all of the human rights violations in China, it does make you question why they were still allowed to host these Games?”

Rippon said “all” athletes were concerned about human rights, and the IOC had put them in an awkward position. But the 32-year-old added, “Every athlete thinks that what is happening isn’t right.”

“Of course, they feel that way. But as an athlete, you train your entire life to go to an Olympic Games, and you dream of going to an Olympics.

“You know what year it’s going to be, but you have no idea what city it will be in.”

Rippon said he hoped the Beijing Games would spotlight human rights in China and pressure the country to address concerns.

He said: “When there is an Olympic Games it does highlight some of these issues … You hope because of these human rights violations coming forth and all eyes being on China, it puts a lot of pressure on them to address this issue.”

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