A collection of human rights groups wrote an open letter to Airbnb, asking the company to end its involvement with the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing due to human rights violations committed by the Chinese government.
The Associated Press reports that the letter was signed by 150 human rights advocates. Airbnb is only one of the 15 major partners involved in the Beijing Olympics. Additional partners include companies such as Visa, Bridgestone, Coca-Cola, Panasonic, Toyota, and more.
“The top 15 sponsors paid the [International Olympic Committee] about $1 billion in cash or services in the last complete, four-year Olympic cycle, to be associated with the games. Airbnb signed up in November of 2019,” the outlet reports.
The open letter to Airbnb’s co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky states, “Given the Chinese government’s discriminatory policies against Tibetans and Uyghurs and its repressive policies against other people under its rule, we urge you to withdraw your support for the Winter Games. Such a move would clearly signal Airbnb’s opposition to human rights violations, including what governments are increasingly recognizing as a genocide against the Uyghur people.”
The group points out that the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games will begin in less than a year “against a backdrop of severe repression and worsening human rights.” They mention how the officials in China have been touting the Olympics as “open” and “inclusive,” stating that it will make a “harmonious world” and advance “social progress.”
The letter also references Airbnb’s statement it released when it signed onto the partnership.
Airbnb’s Co-Founder, Joe Gebbia said, “… Our Olympic partnership will ensure that the Games are the most inclusive, accessible and sustainable yet, and leave a lasting positive legacy for athletes and host communities. Airbnb’s mission is to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere, and we are proud that the Olympic spirit will be carried by our community.”
Regarding Airbnb’s commitment to create accessible and inclusive environments, the letter adds, “With over 2 million Uyghurs arbitrarily detained in internment camps, with pro-democracy activists being rounded up en masse in Hong Kong, and with Tibet now listed as the least free place in the world, alongside Syria, it is hard to imagine how this will be the case.”
The group goes on to explain various abuses including “China’s systematic racist policies” directed towards Tibetans and Uyghurs. Such abuses include the government denying passports to Tibetans and Uyghurs, which the group points out is specifically pertinent to Airbnb because travelers must have a passport in order to book Airbnb locations or hotel accommodations in China.
The group notes that Tibetans and Uyghurs do not have the freedom to travel and “By promoting Beijing listings as a tourist destination, Airbnb is also glossing over China’s horrifying human rights record and normalising to the public what is recognised under international law as a deeply restrictive environment.”
The letter concludes, in part, “We urge you to use your influence with the IOC to press for the Games to be moved and if this doesn’t happen to immediately remove your support, or risk being tainted by the association.”
AP reports, “China says ‘political motives’ underlie the boycott effort. The Chinese describe the detention camps in Xinjiang as vocational centers.” Earlier this month, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said, “China firmly rejects the politicization of sports and opposes using human rights issues to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs,” saying an attempt at a boycott “is doomed to failure.”
On Monday, the United States announced sanctions against officials in China connected to human rights abuses in Xinjiang. The U.S. did so in conjunction with several other countries.
The Daily Wire reports,
According to Politico, the allies’ combined effort included the European Union approving sanctions of four Chinese officials on Monday morning. The United Kingdom also imposed sanctions on four people and one entity, including the two people sanctioned by the United States. Canada also announced that it is imposing sanctions on the same four people and one entity.
China responded to the actions by the European Union by adding sanctions of their own to 10 European persons and four institutions that they claim have hurt China’s interests and “maliciously spread lies and disinformation,” as reported by The Associated Press.
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