More than 250 global campaign groups have written an open letter to leaders attending the G20 summit in Italy urging “like-minded governments” for a “diplomatic boycott” of the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games in view of the “extreme and worsening human rights situation” in the country. The groups represent various minorities that have faced systematic persecution in China. Some of the groups are – Free Tibet, World Uyghur Congress, and We The Hongkongers.

The letter said that the attendance of world leaders in the games “will put governments at serious risk of being complicit in China’s plan to ‘sport wash’ their human rights abuses & embolden the actions of the Chinese authorities.” The letter also mentioned the persecution of Uyghur Muslims by Chinese authorities and the National Security Law that is aimed at curbing civilian movements in Hong Kong. Furthermore, the coalition also blamed the Chinese authorities for the disappearance of government critics and academics.

The letter also took a jibe at the IOC and said that the body has taken up a similar stance as earlier when it was of the opinion that the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games would “positively affect China’s rights record.” It added, “Subsequent developments have showed this faith to be misplaced as the Chinese governemnt repeatedly backtracked on the human rights pledges it made to secure the right to host the Games…” In 2008, Tibet witnessed a series of riots and demonstrations against the Chinese government that lasted from March to the end of October while China hosted the Summer Olympics.