As you likely know, athletes worldwide are gearing up for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, which will take place next month in Beijing, China. But seeing as the Chinese Communist Party is still very much in charge, some countries are rather nervous about sending their top athletes into a nation that is and has been fraught with genocide and other human rights abuses for years now.
One, in particular, has even issued a warning to their competing athletes.
According to Reuters, the Dutch Olympic Committee is telling its athletes to not even attempt to bring any electric devices such as cell phones or personal computers with them into China. The concern is cybersecurity and the very real possibility that China will use such devices to spy on their citizens both while they are in China and after they return home.
As the committee spokesman Geert Slot said, “The importance of cyber security of course has grown over the years. But China has completely closed off its internet, which makes it a specific case.” And past threats and real initiatives dealing with cyber security from China have proved that they are not only more than capable but have no qualms about doing such if given a chance.
Therefore, the Dutch have simply chosen to take those possibilities off the table.
Upon arriving in China, athletes will be given unused phones and computers to ensure that their personal data is not at risk of being stolen from the Chinese.
Now, you may be wondering why, if the threat is so great and likely a possibility, any nation would knowingly choose to send their athletes into China at all? I mean, surely you wouldn’t want to put your countrymen in harm’s way, right?
Well, for nations like the Netherlands, the decision is one that they feel should be made in cooperation with other European countries, much like the decision of a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Olympics.
If they are to boycott the Winter Games on any level, the Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Knapen says it should be a “collectively” made “standard European response.” And as such, officials are saying that they will be speaking with their counterparts in other nations before coming up with a decision.
However, with the games a mere month away at this point, and the European Union already quite hesitant about such a move, a boycott is looking more and more unlikely. Already, sources are saying that the EU is worried about possible “Chinese retaliation that would hurt trade.”
So far, only a total of five countries, including the US, have said that they will not be sending any movement officials or delegations to China for the Winter Games, according to Axios.
In December, White House press secretary Jen Psaki made it known that while the US will be sending its athletes overseas to compete, it will not have any “diplomatic or official representation” in attendance at the games. According to Psaki, this is because of the flagrant and “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity” that are taking place in the nation.
Of course, the reality is that a “diplomatic boycott” does very little, if anything, to hurt China.
The games are, after all, just that. I’m sure that certain nations use them as an excuse to get together and hold a few meetings or try to build better relationships. However, we all know no real business is being conducted.
The only way a boycott could hurt China is if a rather significant number of nations chose not to even send their athletes to compete. This would no doubt harm the possible profits China would make on the incoming fans, athletes, and all of their needs while they are in-country, as well as heavily restrict the games themselves and so the representation of China’s ability to host.
On the contrary, not sending a few politicians overseas is simply a delicate slap on the wrist. The only thing it does is to let China know that a few nations don’t approve of how they are doing something. But there are no real consequences.
If we really wanted to send China a message, we need to find a way to hurt their bottom dollar. But as we all know, Biden and quite a few other world leaders aren’t willing to risk it just yet.