House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged American athletes to avoid speaking out against Chinese human rights abuses during the Beijing Winter Olympics during Thursday testimony in front of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.
“The People’s Republic of China is perpetrating a campaign of gross human rights violations, including genocide,” she said, describing the Olympics as an “attempt to distract the world from a decades-long campaign of abuse and repression.”
“Over the next two weeks, it is our urgent moral duty to shine a bright light on the many human rights violations being perpetrated by the host nation.”
However, Pelosi added, “I would say to our athletes, ‘You are there to compete. Do not risk incurring the anger of the Chinese government, because they are ruthless. I know there is a temptation on the part of some to speak out while they are there. I respect that, but I also worry about what the Chinese government might do.'”
“So again, participate. Let us celebrate from abroad and don’t risk thinking that there are any good intentions on the part of the People’s Republic of China’s government, because there are none.”
The White House announced in December that the U.S. government would participate in a diplomatic boycott of the games, even as Republicans like Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley have called for a complete boycott. Other Republicans, like Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, support the diplomatic boycott while still sending athletes to participate. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Haley Calls Biden’s Diplomatic Olympics Boycott A ‘Joke’ Because China Doesn’t Care If He Shows Up)
China is pursuing a “zero COVID” policy and banning spectators from attending the games. Non-vaccinated athletes are required to quarantine for three weeks before beginning activities, and all athletes are required to upload health information to a phone app that experts say will allow the Chinese government to spy on athletes.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has encouraged athletes to leave their cell phones in the U.S. and purchase temporary phones for use while in-country.
The U.S. has only boycotted one Olympic Games, the 1980 Moscow Games. In response, the Soviet Union boycotted the 1984 Los Angeles Games.