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Washington, D.C. – House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul and other House Foreign Affairs Committee Republicans sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging the State Department to immediately implement the bipartisan American Values and Security in International Athletics Act (AVSIA) in light of this unprecedented threat to international human rights and our values.

Given the historic human rights challenge of the Beijing Winter Olympics, U.S. athletes deserve to be informed of the full breadth of the CCP’s atrocities and malign actions before competing, including the ongoing genocide, the suppression of democracy and dissent, and the attendant risks they face in China,” the lawmakers wrote. 

The letter was signed by:

Lead Republican Michael McCaul (R-TX), Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO), Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), Rep. Mark Green (R-TN), Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL), Rep. August Pfluger (R-TX), Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX), Rep. Young Kim (R-CA) and Maria Salazar (R-FL)

The full text of the letter can be found here and below. 

Dear Secretary Blinken,

When the 2022 Winter Olympics begin in Beijing next month, it will be the first time in history that the Olympics will be held in a country conducting an ongoing genocide. We appreciate your forthright acknowledgement of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) genocide to date and urge you to immediately implement the bipartisan American Values and Security in International Athletics Act (AVSIA) in light of this unprecedented threat to international human rights and our values.

As you know, the CCP’s human rights abuses and genocide are abhorrent. More than one million Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups are being held in concentration camps in Xinjiang. Victims are sexually assaulted, subjected to forced abortions and forced sterilizations, tortured, subjected to forced labor, indoctrinated, and separated from their families and children. Both the executive branch and Congress have designated the CCP’s crimes against Uyghurs as genocide, a rare action reserved for history’s most severe atrocities. The legacy of the 2022 Winter Games will be permanently stained by association, especially because the CCP is already using these games as a tool of propaganda to advertise its authoritarian rule.

Given the historic human rights challenge of the Beijing Winter Olympics, U.S. athletes deserve to be informed of the full breadth of the CCP’s atrocities and malign actions before competing, including the ongoing genocide, the suppression of democracy and dissent, and the attendant risks they face in China. On December 27, 2021, President Biden signed the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included AVSIA, requiring the State Department to brief U.S. athletes competing in international athletic competitions on the human rights abuses and safety concerns of certain host countries. This legislation is a clear sign

that Congress, across partisan lines, expects the State Department ensure American athletes are educated as soon as possible before these games.

The severity of the human rights crisis in China is very likely to motivate American athletes to speak out. Some already have. We can be certain any efforts to stand up for the PRC’s downtrodden will come at great risk to those athletes. U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee officials have acknowledged this conundrum but regrettably urged American athletes to self- censor, stating: “[T]he laws of China are distinct and different… The expectation is we abide by the rules of that country.”

While each athlete will chart their own course through the unprecedented human rights challenge of the 2022 Winter Olympics, the State Department is key to ensuring they have the preparation necessary to make informed decisions, and to protect our athletes on the ground in China. We look forward to supporting your work to meet this serious responsibility, and ask that your reply as soon as possible with:

  • An explanation of the Department’s efforts to implement AVSIA and educate American participants in Beijing 2022 about the CCP’s human rights abuses including genocide, as well as threats to their personal safety.

  • An explanation of what actions the Department has taken to keep American participants safe if they choose to exercise their freedom of speech during Beijing 2022.

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