A Canadian member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) says countries should resist calls to boycott the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics because it does nothing but hurt athletes.
Dick Pound — the longest serving member of the IOC — told CBC News Network’s Power & Politics that past boycotts haven’t achieved the desired results.
Pound pointed to the 1980 boycott of the Moscow games as an example. Canada and it’s allies didn’t participate in those Olympics after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.
“The Soviets were still in Afghanistan ten years later, so in terms of bringing about a conduct change it was completely ineffective,” he told host Vassy Kapelos.
The Toronto Association for Democracy in China was among a coalition of 180 rights groups, including several based in Canada, that called for a boycott Wednesday.
The call for a boycott has been fuelled by reports of human rights abuses against ethnic minorities in China. The coalition backing the call is composed of groups representing Tibetans, Uighurs, Inner Mongolians and residents of Hong Kong among others.
Among the biggest concerns to Canadians is the continued imprisonment in China of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.
Kovrig and Spavor are now marking two years in separate Chinese prisons, on what Canada and dozens of its Western allies say are trumped-up espionage charges in retaliation for the RCMP’s December 2018 arrest of Chinese high-tech executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition warrant.
Tensions between the Canadian and Chinese governments shouldn’t have an impact on the games, Pound said.
“It’s as if we said, ‘we’re so mad about you treating your Chinese citizens in such a way that we’re going to effectively take away all the rights of our athletes,'” Pound said.
Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic committees have also dismissed the idea of a Canadian boycott.
The Olympic Games are set to open Feb. 4, 2022, despite the global pandemic.