Olympic Outrage

Top three reasons the Olympics are controversial this year


@vytautas_dranginis_vee on Unsplash

A group of volunteers groom the ski jump slope in Pyeongchang, South Korea after the 2018 Winter Olympics. The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing have been marked by more controversy than previous games.

Eavan Driscoll, Social Media Editor

Beijing has welcomed 3,000 athletes with their coaches and news crews to compete in 109 different events over the span of two weeks in the 2022 Winter Olympics. 

The games are meant to bring countries together through sports; however, some feel that with numerous human rights violations, lack of natural snow, and worries about public health in the middle of a pandemic, China is not an appropriate host. Ten countries have decided on diplomatic boycotts, where government officials who would traditionally attend refuse to do so. 

While the Olympics are going on as scheduled, these are the main reasons that some have chosen to boycott.


This year’s games have been coined the “Genocide Games” by protestors around the world. That name references the Uyghur genocide taking place in China and has sparked the #IWillNotWatch campaign. Heavily promoted on social media, #IWillNotWatch urges people to not watch the Olympics in protest of human rights violations.

The Uyghur Muslim population lives in the northwest province of Xinjiang and has been subject to forced labor, sexual harassment, and forced sterilization in internment camps, according to the New York Times.

This is the “largest detention of an ethnic minority since World War II,” Sjoerd Sjoerdsma, a member of the Dutch House of Representatives said in an interview with Politico.

In response to these genocide accusations, people around the world have been calling for boycotts since China was chosen to host in 2015.

A protestor of the 2022 Olympics calls for an end to the Uighur genocide. Image found on Unsplash.com. (Kuzzat Altay)

In a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in August 2021, 49 percent of Americans believed that China’s human rights record should prevent it from hosting the Winter Olympics in 2022.

In December, the United States announced that they would not be sending any government officials to the Olympics. 

Australia followed suit the next day, confirming a diplomatic boycott based on human rights violations related to the Uyghur genocide. 

Both countries stopped short of a full boycott because they felt that it was unfair to athletes who had trained for the Olympics for four years.

In the 1980s, The United States and the Soviet Union traded full boycotts after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. After boycotting the 1980 games in Moscow along with 64 other nations, the US got a lot of backlash from citizens as many believed that it was unfair to athletes who had prepared for the games. 

The USSR retaliated with a boycott of their own during the 1984 games in L.A.

Wary of causing the same outrage, countries have been hesitant to conduct a full boycott of the Olympics this year, resulting in diplomatic protests instead.

German government ministers have decided to boycott the 2022 Olympics as well; however, they cite the treatment of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai as their motivation. 

Peng Shuai accused the former vice-premier of China of sexual assault on Nov. 2 in a 1,600-word essay on Chinese social media platform Weibo and later went missing for nearly three weeks. Peng’s disappearance caused international concerns; the retraction of her sexual assault allegations upon her return on Dec. 19 caused even more worry.

“I never said anyone had sexually assaulted me in any way,” Peng told the French daily L’Equipe, contradicting her earlier post.

On Feb. 6 Peng has since announced her retirement, adding to the international confusion of the situation and worry over the health of the athlete and the actions of the Chinese government.

China has denied allegations relating to the oppression of the Uyghur population and any mistreatment of Peng Shuai. 

In response to the numerous diplomatic boycotts, China’s Foreign Ministry claims the US has “clearly violated the Olympic spirit,” and “will pay a price for its erroneous actions” in an interview with the BBC. 

Tibetans and supporters protest calling for the boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympic games. The protest was held in presence of former political prisoner and filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen, Paris, 20 November 2021. Image found on Unslpash.com. (Norbu GYACHUNG)

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told CBS reporters, “[The boycotts] seriously violates the principle of political neutrality of sports established by the Olympic Charter and runs counter to the Olympic motto ‘more united.’” 

Chinese leaders have called for other nations to stop politicizing the Olympics and have made threats to continued partnership with those nations outside of the Olympics. 

After complete denial of all accusations from Chinese leaders, worries of sports washing, using sporting events or other entertainment to distract from human rights abuses, have emerged. 

Human rights organization Amnesty International has been urging the world to not allow these Olympic games to turn into a sports washing opportunity for the Chinese government. 


The choice to bid for the Olympics was controversial in China because of the environmental impact of hosting winter sports. Beijing does not have reliable snowfall in the winter, which has resulted in 100% man-made snow for all of the events.

Chinese workers have sprayed 1.2 million cubic meters of artificial snow over competition sites while100 snow generators and 300 snow-cannons have been used to accomplish this feat.

A snow machine in action works to coat a mountain for winter sports. (https://freerangestock.com/photos/41113/snow-machine-in-action.html)

The cost to create all of this snow in such a short amount of time has contributed greatly to the 3.9 billion total budget for these games. The total cost, however, has reached almost ten times the goal, creeping to 38.5 billion US dollars according to Insider News. 

China has been criticized for the possible environmental impacts of creating vast amounts of artificial snow as well as the extreme cost to do so. 

Beijing is also struggling with water scarcity. Operation of the snow machines will require 49 million gallons of water according to Time Magazine, pulling from the dwindling supply.

“To create events without the primary resource it depends on is not only unsustainable, it’s irresponsible,” geography professor at Strasbourg Caran de Jong said in an interview with Weather Pro Live, “We could just as well hold the Olympics on the moon or on Mars.”


Covid-19 has caused heartbreak among numerous athletes this year as positive test results have forced them to drop out of the competition. 

Most recently, American figure skater Vincent Zhou tested positive, taking to Instagram and NBC to discuss his disappointment.

“The enormity of the situation, the pain of it all, it’s pretty insane,” he told NBC on Feb. 8.

As the 2022 Olympics approached, the Coronavirus was still a prominent pandemic worldwide. The new Omicron variant caused worry over the health and wellbeing of the athletes traveling as well as members of the host country. 

On Feb. 7, just a week after the Olympics began, Olympic organizers announced that 32 athletes in Beijing were in isolation after testing positive for the Coronavirus. 

Since testing began on Jan. 23, there have been 159 confirmed positive cases among athletes, coaches, and officials. 

Conditions in Olympic quarantine have been worrisome according to athletes documenting their experience on social media. 

“I want all this to end. I cry every day. I’m very tired,” Russian biathlon competitor Valeria Vasnetsova posted to her Instagram.

Complaints of bad food, housing conditions, and poor workout equipment have been circulating through the internet. 

Some sports teams and athletes decided ahead of the game that the risk of Covid was too much to attend. 

The NHL announced in December that they would not be sending any hockey players to the Olympics due to Covid concerns. They are now using this Olympic time to make up games missed during their regular season due to an Omicron outbreak.

Athletes are being released from isolation every day with negative tests, but for both the Summer and Winter Olympics, the threat of the pandemic has remained heavy on the conscience of everyone watching and participating in the Olympic games. 


A list of all the Countries that have confirmed a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Olympics.
(Eavan Driscoll)

Although the Olympic Charter encourages political neutrality, politics have always accompanied the games. 

Now the 2022 games are hand-in-hand with politics once again, causing the pressure of nations, news sources, and individual athletes to boycott or make political statements. 

The social environment and laws in China are different than the United States, so athletes have been briefed on their rights in the host country. 

“We are absolutely making sure athletes understand the rules and laws of the country that we’re going to and where those risks might be because those laws and rules are different than they are in our country,” Chief Executive of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee Sarah Hirshland told Anchorage Daily News.

Despite controversy, the Olympics have continued and will be taking place Feb. 4-20.

This poll has ended.

Are you watching the Olympics this year?


Sorry, there was an error loading this poll.