— Published 28 July 2021

Democrats and Republicans put pressure on partners

Beijing 2022

Pressure is rising in the United States against China and the 2022 Beijing Winter Games. It remains very political, but Democrats and Republicans agree with each other. A bipartisan group of congressmen attacked the IOC’s American partners – Coca-Cola, Visa, Intel, Procter & Gamble and Airbnb – on Tuesday, July 27th, accusing them of putting their economic interests ahead of human rights respect. One Republicanelected official, Chris Smith, suggested at the Congressional Executive Committee hearing on China that sponsors should reconcile their “commitment to human rights” with their financial contribution to Winter Games where the host country “actively commits human rights violations.” He asked each of the leaders of the IOC’s global partners attending the hearing whether the Winter Games should be moved or postponed because of China’s failures on human rights. Unsurprisingly, the five leaders shrugged it off and refused to comment, explaining that they were not involved in choosing the host city. “We don’t make decisions about these venues. We support and follow the athletes wherever they compete,” replied Paul Lalli, vice president of Coca-Cola. The resolutely neutral position of the American sponsors who are members of the IOC TOP program did not convince the elected officials. Tom Cotton, a Republican representative, did not hold back his criticism: “Obviously, each of you was sent here with orders not to say anything that would offend the Chinese Communist Party. Your testimony is pathetic and shameful”. A Democratic representative, Tom Malinowski, criticized Airbnb’s head of the Olympic partnership, David Holyoke, for not being more forthcoming in his criticism of the Chinese government. David Holyoke’s response, “In China, we are required to follow national laws and regulations, but human rights are at the core of our values.”