Human Rights Watch is disheartened by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) claims that it successfully reached out to missing tennis star Peng Shuai and confirmed she was safe.
“The IOC has shown in the last few days just how desperate it is to keep the Games on the rails, no matter the human costs,” said HRW’s China director Sophie Richardson in a statement, according to CNN.
Peng Shuai has been missing since Nov. 2 when she alleged on Weibo, Chinese social media, that the country’s former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli sexually assaulted her.
International pressure was only growing as state media tried to calm down the situation with seemingly stage-managed videos until the IOC released a picture on Sunday which showed its director Thomas Bach purportedly talking to a screen with smiling Shuai on it. The IOC claimed she requested privacy.
But as HRW noticed, the IOC was acting in “complicity” with China’s human rights abuses and value the Games more than the welfare of athletes, Reuters added from Richardson’s talk.
She said the video call claim indicated Thomas Bach decided “to walk back her [Shuai’s] claims of sexual assault, rather than figuring doing everything in his and the organization’s power to call that out and make sure that she is afforded the support and investigation and prosecution that may well be warranted.”
In a statement released Monday, Nov. 22, the HRW already cast doubts on the legitimacy of the video conversation between the IOC and Shuai.
“The IOC did not explain how the video call with Peng had been organized, given the difficulties other concerned parties have had reaching her,” it said.
Regarding the stage-managed videos released by Chinese state media, the HRW was not surprised with Beijing’s tactics in silencing those it found problematic to its government, which is ready to use “extralegal forms of detention and torture, and publishes forced confessions to make dubious cases appear legitimate.”
“After fleeing China or being released from detention, some former detainees recanted statements they were forced to make on camera,” the group said.
The IOC has long been an unfavorable name among human rights activists for ignoring boycott calls and allowing its major sports event to be hosted in Beijing.
The 2008 Beijing Olympics was proven to be an opportunity for the Communist government to whitewash its genocide practices under international watch.
It was around the time that the world came to know the regime was committing forced organ harvesting against religious groups, such as Falun Gong practitioners, Tibet Buddhist disciples, and Christians, in addition to minority groups.
Over the 2022 Beijing Olympic event, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has warned that the Chinese government may again execute the exit bans on foreign nationals, including Americans, to pressure international governments for their political or economic gains. It is a concern that the Canadian government also acknowledged.
Meanwhile, the IOC exhibited a lighthearted role in addressing Beijing’s practices against humans throughout ongoing pressure to pull the Olympics off China.
“We are not a world government. We have to respect the sovereignty of the countries who are hosting the games,” said IOC Vice President John Coates in October when asked about the treatment of the Uighur minority.
“We have no ability to go into a country and tell them what to do… it’s not our remit,” he added.