How Influential Sports Organizations Enable the Chinese Regime to Commit Crimes Against Humanity

Commentary Right now, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is busy recruiting an “army of western social media influencers, each with hundreds of thousands of followers on TikTok, Instagram or Twitch,” all in an effort “to spread positive stories about China” throughout the Winter Olympics, according to The Guardian. The CCP, we’re told, “has hired western PR professionals to spread an alternative narrative through social media.” Yes, an alternative narrative for a country that very much favors alternative explanations for obvious problems. Now, I ask, should we be upset with the influencers? Perhaps. But many of these influencers are just kids. Moreover, social media influencers are not necessarily known for their high ethical standards. We must zoom out and realize that they are just part of a much bigger problem. A better question to ask is this: Why is Beijing even hosting the Winter Olympics? The International Olympic Committee (IOC), as I have discussed before, has a lot to answer for, far more than any of the influencers being recruited. Sadly, the IOC, like a number of other influential sports organizations, has enabled the CCP to carry on committing crimes against humanity. This is not a controversial point to make. If the IOC, an organization that purports to recognize and uphold human rights, had refused to award the Games to China–say, due to acts of genocide being carried out in Xinjiang—then, perhaps, the world would look a little different. Then again, maybe not. But a refusal to award the Games would have sent a strong message to the brutes in Beijing. Sadly, the only message that has been sent is one of support and undying loyalty. Of course, the IOC is not alone in its shameful subservience to the CCP. Tennis Australia also claims to care about human rights. It claims to care about tennis star Peng Shuai. However, considering it recently asked fans at Melbourne Park to remove T-shirts and a banner emblazoned with the words “Where is Peng Shuai?,” there are plenty of reasons to view Tennis Australia with a high degree of suspicion. Even though the decision has since been reversed, the damage has been done. It took a major outcry for Tennis Australia to, once again, allow people to ask a very valid question. First impressions leave a lasting impression; people will be slow to forget Tennis Australia’s role in silencing genuine concern and enabling a tyrannical regime. Activists hand out t-shirts reading “Where is Peng Shuai?” to spectators outside Melbourne Park ahead of the women’s singles final, in Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, on Jan. 29, 2022. (Morgan Sette/Reuters) Sportwashing and Spineless Enablers Tennis great Martina Navratilova recently said that sports “has always been on the forefront of social issues, pushing them forward, and we are going backwards I feel.” She’s right. We are. This is especially true in China, a place where the NBA and the NFL shamelessly cater to the demands of the CCP. The NFL, lest we forget, has endorsed the CCP’s false claim that Taiwan is part of China. In December, it was revealed that the Los Angeles Rams, a team headed to Super Bowl LVI, where they’ll attempt to win a world championship on their home turf, plans to tap into the Chinese market. NFL executives, according to Sportico, “awarded the Rams exclusive merchandising and sponsorship rights in three international countries: Mexico, Australia and China.” What exactly were the Rams “awarded” with? “The home marketing area (HMA) license,” we’re told, “allows the Rams (and 17 other teams) to create commercial opportunities to boost fan engagement through in-person and digital marketing in their designations.” Of all the three markets that “present unique investment opportunities,” China is by far “the most intriguing.” Why? Because it offers the greatest potential. Sure, the country also offers “equally substantial pitfalls, as its authoritarian government remains at odds with the U.S. on economic, human rights and tech issues,” the report said. But this doesn’t seem to concern the NFL, nor does it seem to concern the Rams’ owner, Stan Kroenke. Kroenke might not care, but Enes Kanter Freedom, the Boston Celtics center, certainly does. For months, he has spent an inordinate amount of time condemning the NBA—as well as other basketball stars—for ignoring the human rights abuses occurring in China. Now, though, Freedom has support. Not from the NBA (obviously), but from a bipartisan coalition in Congress. As ESPN recently reported, the coalition, very much echoing Freedom’s concerns, “has called out NBA players who maintain lucrative contracts with four Chinese companies accused of being complicit in those violations.” Li-Ning, Anta, Peak and 361 Degrees—three Chinese suppliers of shoes and sporting goods—all have NBA stars as representatives. More worryingly, all three have been accused of “using forced labor to produce their goods in China’s Xinjiang region.” Seventeen NBA play

How Influential Sports Organizations Enable the Chinese Regime to Commit Crimes Against Humanity

Commentary

Right now, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is busy recruiting an “army of western social media influencers, each with hundreds of thousands of followers on TikTok, Instagram or Twitch,” all in an effort “to spread positive stories about China” throughout the Winter Olympics, according to The Guardian.

The CCP, we’re told, “has hired western PR professionals to spread an alternative narrative through social media.”

Yes, an alternative narrative for a country that very much favors alternative explanations for obvious problems.

Now, I ask, should we be upset with the influencers? Perhaps. But many of these influencers are just kids. Moreover, social media influencers are not necessarily known for their high ethical standards. We must zoom out and realize that they are just part of a much bigger problem.

A better question to ask is this: Why is Beijing even hosting the Winter Olympics?

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), as I have discussed before, has a lot to answer for, far more than any of the influencers being recruited. Sadly, the IOC, like a number of other influential sports organizations, has enabled the CCP to carry on committing crimes against humanity. This is not a controversial point to make.

If the IOC, an organization that purports to recognize and uphold human rights, had refused to award the Games to China–say, due to acts of genocide being carried out in Xinjiang—then, perhaps, the world would look a little different. Then again, maybe not.

But a refusal to award the Games would have sent a strong message to the brutes in Beijing. Sadly, the only message that has been sent is one of support and undying loyalty.

Of course, the IOC is not alone in its shameful subservience to the CCP. Tennis Australia also claims to care about human rights. It claims to care about tennis star Peng Shuai. However, considering it recently asked fans at Melbourne Park to remove T-shirts and a banner emblazoned with the words “Where is Peng Shuai?,” there are plenty of reasons to view Tennis Australia with a high degree of suspicion.

Even though the decision has since been reversed, the damage has been done. It took a major outcry for Tennis Australia to, once again, allow people to ask a very valid question. First impressions leave a lasting impression; people will be slow to forget Tennis Australia’s role in silencing genuine concern and enabling a tyrannical regime.

Australian Open activists
Activists hand out t-shirts reading “Where is Peng Shuai?” to spectators outside Melbourne Park ahead of the women’s singles final, in Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, on Jan. 29, 2022. (Morgan Sette/Reuters)

Sportwashing and Spineless Enablers

Tennis great Martina Navratilova recently said that sports “has always been on the forefront of social issues, pushing them forward, and we are going backwards I feel.” She’s right. We are.

This is especially true in China, a place where the NBA and the NFL shamelessly cater to the demands of the CCP. The NFL, lest we forget, has endorsed the CCP’s false claim that Taiwan is part of China. In December, it was revealed that the Los Angeles Rams, a team headed to Super Bowl LVI, where they’ll attempt to win a world championship on their home turf, plans to tap into the Chinese market.

NFL executives, according to Sportico, “awarded the Rams exclusive merchandising and sponsorship rights in three international countries: Mexico, Australia and China.” What exactly were the Rams “awarded” with? “The home marketing area (HMA) license,” we’re told, “allows the Rams (and 17 other teams) to create commercial opportunities to boost fan engagement through in-person and digital marketing in their designations.” Of all the three markets that “present unique investment opportunities,” China is by far “the most intriguing.” Why? Because it offers the greatest potential.

Sure, the country also offers “equally substantial pitfalls, as its authoritarian government remains at odds with the U.S. on economic, human rights and tech issues,” the report said. But this doesn’t seem to concern the NFL, nor does it seem to concern the Rams’ owner, Stan Kroenke.

Kroenke might not care, but Enes Kanter Freedom, the Boston Celtics center, certainly does. For months, he has spent an inordinate amount of time condemning the NBA—as well as other basketball stars—for ignoring the human rights abuses occurring in China. Now, though, Freedom has support. Not from the NBA (obviously), but from a bipartisan coalition in Congress. As ESPN recently reported, the coalition, very much echoing Freedom’s concerns, “has called out NBA players who maintain lucrative contracts with four Chinese companies accused of being complicit in those violations.”

Li-Ning, Anta, Peak and 361 Degrees—three Chinese suppliers of shoes and sporting goods—all have NBA stars as representatives. More worryingly, all three have been accused of “using forced labor to produce their goods in China’s Xinjiang region.” Seventeen NBA players have deals with at least one of these questionable companies, according to ESPN.

Such deals are not just unethical, they are unforgivable—on so many levels. Money before morals, as I have noted in the past, is a mantra often uttered by the most powerful. Not explicitly, of course. Behind closed doors, in highrise buildings, far away from the prying eyes of the public. But their actions, and their willingness to aid a tyrannical regime, speak volumes.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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John Mac Ghlionn is a researcher and essayist. His work has been published, among others, by the New York Post, Sydney Morning Herald, Newsweek, National Review, and The Spectator US. He covers psychology and social relations, and has a keen interest in social dysfunction and media manipulation.