It’s easy then to draw an almost comical comparison between the Olympic Charter and Chinese policy towards Uyghurs. The stated spirit of the Games is one of openness and respect for universal ethical principles, and places sport, “at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.”
It will not be the moral weight of the Charter, however, that gets in the way of China’s hosting duties. The IOC also has a particular interest in ensuring a controversy-free Games, something that will be difficult to avoid if full-on cultural genocide is taking place within your borders, which many are now suggesting.
If we want China to close the camps and halt these abhorrent policies, activists and human rights groups will do well to hit them (and the IOC) where it hurts – their reputation.
The IOC carries enormous financial and reputational interests in ensuring the Olympics go ahead as planned, so the agents of change will have to possess a clear and nuanced understanding of where the pressure points lay in this respect.