Feb 4, 2022 - Sports

LGBTQ athletes speak out against Chinese government's abuses

Adam Rippon in a skating uniform on the left and Gus Kenworthy in ski gear on the right
Retired American figure skater Adam Rippon (left) and British freestyle skiier Gus Kenworthy. Photos: Matthew Stockman and David Ramos via Getty Images

LGBTQ Olympians are speaking out against the Chinese government's record of human rights abuses as the Winter Olympics kick off in Beijing.

Why it matters: Critics have dubbed the Beijing Games the "genocide Olympics" due to the Chinese government's treatment of Uyghurs and other minority groups, among other atrocities.

What they're saying: "It makes me think of being rewarded for bad behavior," retired U.S. figure skater Adam Rippon, who took bronze at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics and is coaching American Mariah Bell at the Beijing Games, told Reuters.

  • "Always the hope is that [the Olympics] helps better the hosting nation as well, but I do agree that in light of all of the human rights violations in China, it does make you question why were they still allowed to host these Games?"
  • "I think when you have a platform, you're expected to use your voice in an even bigger way because you have a way to amplify a message," Rippon added.
  • "I don't think that the IOC should grant these countries the right to host if they have human rights issues, if there's genocide going on in the country, if they have stances against the LGBTQ community," British freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy, who will compete in the men's halfpipe in Beijing, said in an interview with BBC.
  • "The IOC should take a stance against a lot of these atrocities and stand up for important issues, and by not granting those countries the right to host the Games they could create positive change in those places - maybe not even letting them compete."

Go deeper: What a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics means

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