Major sponsors are preserving their $1 billion investment in the next Winter Olympics in Beijing by maintaining silent on China’s human rights concerns.
The Chinese government has been accused of genocide and crimes against humanity, particularly against the Uyghur people. While numerous nations are boycotting the Olympics as a result of these claims, the event’s major sponsors have apparently remained loyal.
Five of the U.S.-based sponsors, including Airbnb, Coca-Cola, Intel, Procter & Gamble, and Visa, spoke before a Congressional Executive Committee on China hearing in July. The majority of the corporations evaded direct queries, but stated that they were required by Chinese law to do so.
Intel senior vice president Steven Rodgers was the lone business spokesman who stated that China was “committing genocide against the Uyghur people.”
According to the Associated Press, a source in contact with the sponsors who wished to remain anonymous, the prevailing mindset was to avoid mentioning Beijing and to “work around the edges,”
Major sponsors have together paid the International Olympic Committee at least $1 billion, but the amount might be closer to $2 billion.
All of the Olympic partners have stated their strong support for human rights. But, according to Zumretay Arkin of the World Uyghur Congress, who contacted them last year to request a meeting to discuss suspected human rights violations, the reaction was silence.
“These firms constantly advertise their ideals, claiming that they are aiming for inclusion, human rights, and other wonderful qualities. But when it comes to China, it’s incredible how quiet they become “she claims. “It’s all about money,” she continues.
Alibaba is China’s sole Olympic partner, but it, too, is caught in the international crossfire. It’s also been rather quiet on Western social media.
“Alibaba faces a variety of vulnerabilities.” says Scott Kennedy, a China analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Not only are they listed on the New York Stock Exchange, they have significant business through their trade platform and e-commerce with the United States,” he says.
Chinese corporations are concerned about antagonizing China in the same way that Western companies are concerned about antagonizing China. TikTok, a video app owned by a Chinese corporation, has discovered the hard way that enraging US presidents may be bad. In 2020, President Trump attempted to outlaw the platform.
Two Winter Olympics are quite likely to be place. An Olympics within China, where companies strongly promote Beijing 2022, and an Olympics outside of China, where brands rarely mention the Games.
In the United States, for example, finding an advertisement that mentions Beijing 2022 is uncommon, but there is considerable attention on particular US athletes. “The framing is going to be different; the topics are going to be different.” Mr Kennedy adds.
“The interpretation of the results will differ as well. Companies who conduct business across that divide will have to adapt to both “he claims. Beijing 2022 provides a glimpse into the future for international corporations attempting to satisfy two global giants with vastly different value systems.