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Debate over boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics hits home in Richmond

A long-term Richmondite feels disturbed when he saw a two-page ad in the paper taken out by a local organization stating its members “strongly oppose and condemn any boycott of the Beijing Olympics Games."
Beijing 2008 Summer Games Fireworks
Long-term Richmondite Bill Chiu said he can’t understand how people who declare allegiance to Canada can then turn around and support a government that imprisons two innocent Canadians. Pictured: the 2008 Summer Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing.

It’s a year away and on the other side of the globe, but the issue of boycotting the 2022 Beijing Winter Games has hit close to home in Richmond.

Long-time Richmond resident, Bill Chiu, was disturbed when he saw a two-page ad in the Richmond News taken out by the Richmond-based Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations (CACA), stating its members “strongly oppose and condemn any boycott of the Beijing Olympics Games.” 

Chiu said he can’t understand how people who declare allegiance to Canada can then turn around and support a government that imprisons two innocent Canadians.

 “I feel it’s so ironic,” said Chiu. 

“People chose to immigrate to Canada for a reason,” and those reasons don’t align with imprisoning innocent people in a deliberate act of retaliation, he added in reference to the cases of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, who have been in prison in China for two years. 

The arrests of the “two Michaels” is largely seen as retaliation against Canada for arresting Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on an extradition request from the U.S.

“Hosting the Olympics in China has to be stopped. I have nothing against Chinese immigrants. I am against China’s Communist Party (CCP),” added Chiu. 

Next year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing was also on the agenda of Canada’s parliament recently when the House of Commons passed a non-binding motion supporting a boycott of the Games not only in response to the case of the two Michaels, but also the Chinese government’s treatment of the Uyghur minority, which parliament declared an act of genocide. 

Activists and human rights organizations around the world are calling on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to relocate the games from China. 

Timmy Wong, also from Richmond, agrees holding the Olympics Games in China is inappropriate, adding that to do so undermines the Olympic spirit.

“The Olympics represent peace on earth. CCP plans to take advantage of this opportunity to “sportwash” their reputation in the world. We should know that CCP has lots of money and they don’t mind spending the money to get what they want, for example, the reputation,” said Wong, adding that Canadians should boycott not only Olympics Games but also other global events. 

‘Boycotting Olympics Games couldn’t solve problems,” said CACA 

The Richmond News has reached out to the CACA for an interview, but its members only agreed to respond through email.

CACA replied that its members are made up of Chinese-Canadians and they think boycotting isn’t a helpful solution. 

“For example, in 1980, the United States led a boycott of the Summer Olympics Games in Moscow. The Soviets bloc refused to attend the 1984 games in America. Can boycott solve all problems? The answer is No. We believe that not only Canadians, Chinese but also people of all ethnic groups could gain better understanding between each other through competing at the Olympics and Paralympics Games,” reads the statement. 

“Boycotting might bring a series of negative impacts, such as some athletes had been working extremely hard for four years, but they couldn’t be given a chance to attend the competition. We’re also concerned that people who hold different opinions on this issue might argue with each other, which will divide us and worsen existing issues,” the statement continues. 

Wong said he understands that most athletes only have one chance in their lifetime to participate in the Olympics Games, but China isn’t the right place to host events like that. 

“If you see how the CCP treats the Uyghur, as well as its own citizens, there are a lot of people suffering there. The Olympics’ values are totally opposite of the country’s,” said Wong.