EXCLUSIVE: Nikki Haley: Attending Beijing Olympics After Tokyo Would Give ‘Propaganda Victory’ To China

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Sebastian Hughes Politics Reporter
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  • Former ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley supports a boycott of the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, because of China’s numerous human rights abuses, including genocide against Uyghur Muslims.
  • “The physical and sexual abuse that’s happening to women and children, the forced labor … it’s unthinkable,” Haley told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
  • “Anyone that says that we should just go ahead and fight the good fight at the Olympics and turn our backs on genocide is not remembering the atrocities that have happened in history,” Haley said.

As the U.S. prepares to compete at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, former Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley is making it clear the country needs to boycott next year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Haley supports a boycott of the games as a response to the Chinese government’s human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region, which the U.S. has recognized as genocide.

“The physical and sexual abuse that’s happening to women and children, the forced labor … it’s unthinkable,” Haley said in an interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation. “We have to fight for these people who can’t fight for themselves.”

Agnès Callamard, the secretary general of Amnesty International, called the conditions a “dystopian hellscape,” after the organization’s 2021 report found the Chinese government was engaging in “state-organized mass imprisonment, torture and persecution.” Another report released by the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy in March concluded the Chinese government “bears state responsibility for an ongoing genocide” against the Uyghur people.

Haley published an op-ed for Fox News in February comparing the situation to 1936 when the U.S. competed at an Olympics hosted by Nazi Germany, stating the U.S. would not have attended the games if it had known the atrocities Adolf Hitler was planning. She reiterated that comparison to the DCNF.


This photograph taken on June 23, 2021 shows a placard representing barber wire shaping and Olympics Rings are seen next to a sign of the Olympics Museum during a protest organised by Tibetan and Uyghur activists against Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

“That was the biggest propaganda victory for the Nazis,” she said. “Why are we going to do that for China when they gave us Covid? When there’s literally genocide happening right in front of us?”

Haley added that she found it “disgraceful that companies like Nike and Coca-Cola would boycott the state of Georgia, but won’t do anything against China.” To her, the only reason people aren’t “getting up in arms” is because there are “corporate financial interests that are involved.”

Haley isn’t alone in calling for countries to boycott the games come 2022. Several human rights groups issued a joint statement in May asking all governments not to go to Beijing and compete, while former Vice President Mike Pence told an audience at The Heritage Foundation last week the location for the Olympics needed to be moved, The Hill reported.

“President Biden should make a clear and unequivocal demand that the 2022 Winter Olympics be moved from Beijing unless China comes clean on the origins of COVID-19 and immediately ends persecution of the Uyghur people,” Pence said.

But not all Republicans have taken Haley’s side of the argument. In a separate Fox News op-ed, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas insisted that “athletes should go to Beijing next year proudly, bring home medal after medal, and show the world what it means to compete on behalf of a free society.”

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah wrote that denying American athletes their life’s dream would be the “easy, but wrong, answer” in his own op-ed for The New York Times. (RELATED: Science Journal Editor Says He Resigned After Publisher Said He Can’t Boycott China)

“It’s not okay to say ‘Oh, let’s just go fight and win some medals and that’ll make everything okay,'” Haley told the DCNF. “Anyone that says that we should just go ahead and fight the good fight at the Olympics and turn our backs on genocide is not remembering the atrocities that have happened in history.”

“My heart goes out to the athletes and I know that our athletes represent all that is free and is great about America,” she added. “But I know if they heard the stories of these people, I know if they saw the abuses, they would see where we’re coming from.”


Witness Uyghur teacher Qelbinur Sidik holds up a photograph of the hospital where she says she underwent a forced sterilization procedure on the first day of hearings at the “Uyghur Tribunal”, a panel of UK-based lawyers and rights experts investigating alleged abuses against Uyghurs in China, in London on June 4, 2021. (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

The last time the U.S. boycotted the Olympics was when the Soviet Union hosted the games in 1980. Former President Jimmy Carter decided to lead an international boycott after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, but the choice proved to be largely unpopular and failed to hurt the host country as intended, according to Politico.

Haley admitted she does not believe a boycott will “suddenly change Chinese Communist behavior,” but to her, that isn’t the reason she’s pushing for it. “The point is whether America and freedom-loving people around the world should promote or condone what’s going on in China. And our participation would do that,” she said.

“Don’t underestimate, in this time where China wants to show this great big win by hosting the Olympics, the one thing that stops that is when every news story talks about how the U.S. boycotted,” she added.

Former President Donald Trump also came under pressure to take stronger actions against China for its treatment of the Uyghurs during his administration, but admitted to Axios in 2020 that he didn’t sanction the country because he was “in the middle of a major trade deal.”

When asked if Trump should have taken more forceful steps to stop the human rights violations against the Uyghurs, Haley said she wasn’t going to discuss the past “with either Trump or Biden.”

“I think what’s important is what do we do now,” she said. “Whether it’s a current president or former president or any elected official or people in between, call them out, let’s boycott the Olympics.”

“That’s the right, moral thing to do, and we should be at the forefront of that,” she said.

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