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Beijing Olympics: IOC must consider hosts’ human rights record, skier Kenworthy says

Click to play video: 'What the diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics means for Canada' What the diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics means for Canada
WATCH: What the diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics means for Canada – Dec 9, 2021

Freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy, an advocate for LGBTQ rights, said on Saturday the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should take a host nation’s stance on human rights issues into consideration when awarding the Games.

Rights groups have long criticized the IOC’s choice of Beijing as 2022 host, and several countries including the United States and Britain mounted diplomatic boycotts to protest China’s treatment of its minority Muslim Uyghur population, which the United States, Canada and other Western nations deems to be genocide.

China denies allegations of human rights abuses.

“I am absolutely a fan of Olympics. I also think, that being said, because it’s the world stage and everyone is watching, there is an opportunity to create positive change and the IOC could help dictate that change by pushing on certain issues,” he said after the men’s freeski halfpipe final on Saturday.

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“Those issues are human rights issues,” he said.

Read more: Beijing Olympics should not distract from China’s human rights controversies: experts

The British-born Kenworthy, who won silver for the United States in slopestyle in Sochi in 2014 and is now competing for Britain, said China had put on an impressive Games, given the pandemic, but stressed that the Olympics had the ability to bring about positive change.

“When there’s human rights and the country’s stance on LGBT, those issues should be taken into consideration by the IOC,” he said after finishing eighth.

The IOC has said human rights will be protected for all participants as part of the host contract, but emphasized that it does not have the power or mandate to change laws or interfere with a sovereign state.

Read more: Beijing Olympics official declares Taiwan part of China, calls Xinjiang abuses ‘lies’

Homosexuality is legal in China, which until 2001 had classified it as a mental disorder, but same-sex marriage is not recognized and concerns over stigmatization still discourage many people from coming out to their families.

Kenworthy has said that when he competed in Sochi, he was worried that someone would find out that he was gay, given Russia’s anti-LGBTQ legislation. That experience ultimately led him to come out, he said earlier this week.

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Website OutSports estimates that there are more than 30 LGBTQ athletes competing in Beijing.

(Reporting by Mari SaitoEditing by Tony Munroe and Michael Perry)

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China calls Canada, other countries’ diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics a ‘farce’ – Dec 9, 2021

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