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Munich, Moscow, now Beijing - to boycott or not

By Chris Lewis - posted Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Should Western societies respond to the Communist Party of China (CCP) through sporting boycotts?

At a time when democratic societies face substantial challenges from the growing might of the CCP which seeks to promote its interests on behalf of China almost everywhere, I argue that sport too should also reflect this serious political issue.

I argue this despite strong sympathy for the plight of athletes whose sporting ambition rests largely on Olympic Games participation, and my own recognition that all nations have made significant policy mistakes (including the US and Australia).


In this article, I reflect my perspective that sport, rather than being used as a tool for totalitarian governments to supposedly express its prowess by winning lots of shiny medals, reflects an important part of the Western tradition and influence.

Representing the relative beauty of our pluralist political system, where power is dispersed and backed by the rule of law, Western societies have developed sport over many decades aided by public funding to build sporting fields and promote activities, even creating professional opportunities in time for national and overseas athletes.

Social interaction through sport, as much as government legislation, has been a catalyst for breaking down barriers between different ethnic groups in many Western societies, including Australia, despite those still arguing that systemic racism persists.

Hence, China under the CCP, with its nationalist agenda and bias towards the Han majority, mistakenly thinks it can deflect criticism of its human rights record through its longstanding approach that forces all minorities into the centre within a view that only the CCP knows best how to ensure China's progress.

Heaven help humanity (and the planet) should the CCP ever dominate international relations with its total disregard for pluralism and checks and balances.

Hence, in line with a recent call for Australia to reconsider its participation at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, I also argue that there comes a time when decent nations (including Australia) should take a stand against CCP influence through sport, and not repeat the same mistakes when the Nazis used the Olympic Games to create a false impression it was a supporter of a better world.


In line with my past concerns about the rise of China under the CCP since 2009, the CCP's increasingly fascist behaviour is clearly evident.

We see this through the mass arbitrary detention, torture, separation of families, forced labour and violations of reproductive rights of the Uighur and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang,

the sending of Han Chinese into Tibet to take over Tibetan lands and property while persecuting and jailing Tibetans;

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About the Author

Chris Lewis, who completed a First Class Honours degree and PhD (Commonwealth scholarship) at Monash University, has an interest in all economic, social and environmental issues, but believes that the struggle for the ‘right’ policy mix remains an elusive goal in such a complex and competitive world.

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