USOPC stays neutral on China, pushes Salt Lake City – KXAN Austin
through: EDDIE PELLS, Associated Press
Posted: Dec 17, 2021 / 3:34 PM CSTUpdated: 12/17/2021 / 3:34 PM CST
FILE – Young people pose behind the Olympic rings during the torchlight tour ahead of the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games in front of the Olympic House in Lausanne, Switzerland, the Chair of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee questions about the problems in the host country in a kind of marketing pitch for America’s own ambitions. (Jean-Christophe Bott / Keystone via AP, file)
Rather than taking a tough stance on the conflicts associated with sending Olympic athletes to China, the chairman of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee turned the host country issues into something of a marketing pitch for America’s own ambitions.
“The best we can do is to offer the world excellent opportunities for games here in the US,” said USOPC Chairman Susanne Lyons on Friday when asked how the association can use its influence to address the current problems in the Olympic world to solve. “In Los Angeles and hopefully in Salt Lake City.”
The plug for Salt Lake City, which the USOPC said was officially in the running to host a Winter Olympics two years after the LA 2028 Games, was part of the association’s not-so-subtle attempt to clarify the issues who he faces about problems following the upcoming Beijing Games: alleged human rights violations, the as yet unknown whereabouts of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai and the diplomatic boycott of the US and other governments.
It is a delicate dance with many moving parts, not least the safety of around 230 American athletes, whose dreams of participating in the Olympic Games, Lyons emphasized, should not be posed about the political climate in China.
And yet, all of this happened when the USOPC closed a quarterly meeting that happened the same week that the $ 380 million settlement was reached with sexual abuse survivors of former gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. Peng says she was also mistreated. Her whereabouts became worrying after she went on social media and accused a former high-ranking Chinese government official of sexual assault.
Because of this, the USOPC finds itself between the need to show that it listens to the abuse victims and condemns what happens to Peng, but also that they appreciate not wanting to miss the chance for this year’s group of athletes to be one fulfill an Olympic dream.
“Still, it’s really impossible for any of us, especially in the western world, to really know how things are for Peng’s well-being,” said Lyons. “And of course we are worried about her. We sincerely hope that anyone able to investigate their claims and ensure their safety will take appropriate action. “
While Lyons wouldn’t say so, this could include the IOC, which says it has spoken to Peng twice but has not disclosed details of those chats and has since admitted that there can be no certainty about Peng’s situation.
The IOC is the ultimate referee when it comes to awarding Olympic applications. The 2028 Los Angeles Games will be the first Olympic Games on US soil in 26 years. It’s a generational gap that can be attributed, at least in part, to the association’s difficult relationship with the IOC, and which could also influence USOPC’s decision to proceed cautiously on all issues related to China.
The future of the application in Salt Lake City also depends on the willingness of Los Angeles to cooperate. The LA Organizing Committee now manages all U.S. sponsorship deals, and including a U.S.-based Olympics in the same window requires serious negotiation to ensure those contracts aren’t watered down.
The IOC, meanwhile, is revising its application process, in part in recognition of the fact that the world’s major cities do not all see the chance to host the Olympics as the grand victory they once had.
Beijing won the 2022 Games through an application process that was limited to just two candidates: China and Kazakhstan.
China won, and the US, UK, Australia and Canada are among the countries that have declared a diplomatic boycott of the Games. This is the point where a “boycott” is expected, and with both political tension and COVID-19 cases mounting, the primary goal of USOPC is now to get its athletes in and out of the country without harm .
Part of it is the refresher for the entire delegation on the possible consequences of speaking out on these issues on Chinese soil.
“The laws of China are clearly different and different from those in the United States,” said CEO Sarah Hirshland. “And it is our duty and obligation to ensure that the athletes understand what that means and that we expect us to comply with the laws of this country.”
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