The rights group said in an online briefing that it had contacted everyone except one of the IOC’s so-called TOP sponsors – and NBC’s main broadcast rights owner – in long letters nearly six months ago.
The only answer came from sponsor Allianz, which it wrote just last month.
“We stand behind the Olympic Movement and our long-term support for its ideals will not waver,” Allianz said.
The Beijing Games open on February 4.
The letters asked sponsors to be aware of the rights climate in China, and to examine supply chains and other operations to ensure they do not “contribute to human rights violations”.
“It’s only three months until the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, but corporate sponsors are silent on how they are using their influence to address China’s appalling human rights record,” Sophie Richardson, Chinese director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
The statement said sponsors risk “being associated with Olympics tainted by censorship and repression.”
The TOP sponsors, at the time of the letter, included: Airbnb, Alibaba, Allianz, Atos, Bridgestone, Coca-Cola, Dow, General Electric, Intel, Omega, Panasonic, Procter & Gamble, Toyota and Visa.
Two sponsors – Dow and General Electric – have completed contracts with the IOC, which ended with the recent Tokyo Olympics.
In total, TOP sponsors paid about $ 1 billion in cash and cash payments to the IOC in the 2013-2016 Olympic cycle, a figure that was expected to double when complete figures are released for the 2017-2020 cycle. This cycle has been delayed due to Tokyo’s one-year delay due to the pandemic.
The American network NBC accounted for about 40% of IOC revenue in the 2013-2016 cycle.
“The time for quiet diplomacy is over,” Human Rights Watch’s Minky Worden said during the briefing. “It’s time for the TOP sponsors to urge the International Olympic Committee to adopt human rights. It’s time for them to reveal their own supply chains in China, especially all products that have the five rings of the Olympics.”
The rights group’s statement comes just three days after a global trade union group released a scathing report that questioned China’s decency to hold the Games in the face of alleged genocides and crimes against humanity allegedly taking place in Xinjiang in northwest China.
The report of the International Trade Union Confederation is entitled “China: a gold medal for repression.”
China has repeatedly denied that genocide is taking place, calling it the “lie of the century”. It said camps in northwest China are for education, not arbitrary internment of an alleged 1 million Uyghur Muslims and other religious and ethnic minorities.
For its part, the IOC says its only focus is sports and has no competence to act in accordance with the policies of a sovereign state. The IOC, however, holds an observation seat at the United Nations, unlike any other sports business.
“We have a lot of respect for other organizations that have other goals in life,” said Juan Antonio Samaranch, the IOC member responsible for Beijing preparations, earlier this week responding to the ITUC report. “But we believe that our responsibility is such – to celebrate the Olympics as a celebration of humanity, overall, despite our differences.”
Most of the IOC sponsors have adhered to the so-called United Nations Guiding Principles on Trade and Human Rights. They specify the duty of states and businesses to “respect, protect and enforce human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
However, the IOC did not include those guidelines in its hosting city contract for the Beijing Olympics, but added it to the contract for the 2024 Paris Olympics and other future Games.
When the IOC awarded Beijing the 2008 Summer Olympics, it said they would improve human rights in China.
“The failure of Chinese authorities to uphold the rights-related commitments they made to win the 2008 Summer Olympics, and their deepening repression since that time, makes it clear that the government cannot wait for human rights around the 2022 Winter Games. ” Human Rights Watch said.
More AP Winter Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports
More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/olympic-games and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports