On Thursday 15 July 2021 the House of Commons debated a motion relating to human rights in China and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

The motion, which followed a demand from Labour, called on the UK Government to decline invitations for its representatives to attend the Beijing Winter Olympics unless the Chinese Government ends the human rights atrocities taking place in Xinjiang and lifts the sanctions imposed on British parliamentarians.

I wholeheartedly agree with the motion and I am please that it was unanimously passed by the House of Commons. This follows the collective decision by the House of Commons in April to declare the treatment of the Uyghur people in Xinjiang a genocide.

I believe UN investigators should be given unfettered access to Xinjiang. The UK has a long and proud history of taking a stand against oppression and I believe it would be inappropriate to give the Chinese Government a propaganda coup by sending ministers and other officials to Beijing for the Winter Olympics while the UN remains locked out of Xinjiang. It would also be disrespectful to Parliament which has taken a strong stance on this issue.

While I believe it is right that there is a diplomatic and political boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in these circumstances, I believe athletes should continue to participate in the games. Athletes spend years training to reach the peak of their physical performance, making sacrifices day in and day out, building towards the opportunity to compete in the Olympics games every four years on an unmatched global stage. In light of this I do not believe that cancelling the Winter Games altogether would be fair on competitors or on the Chinese people who are not responsible for these gross human rights abuses.

I hope that the Government , which chose to abstain on the non-binding vote, shortly confirms that they will support the Motion’s demands recognising the support for a diplomatic boycott across the House and beyond as evidenced by the many emails I received on this issue.

Interlocked statue erected in grass of Olympic rings against a background of a blue sky
Interlocked statue erected in grass of Olympic rings against a background of a blue sky
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