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World News

British politician backs China Olympic boycott over persecuted Christians

by Sophie Drew

Former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith has urged athletes to think carefully about boycotting the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

Discussion continues to build in the lead-up to the competition, with many concerned that the event will act as a smokescreen for China’s human rights abuses.

The country has a track record when it comes to their treatment of religious groups, including Christians.

The United States has already announced a diplomatic boycott – meaning Government ministers won’t be attending the event – due to China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims.

Sir Iain has backed the UK Government's decision not to send any ministers to Beijing, and believes the athletes should consider what they may be endorsing by competing.

He told Premier: “There are Christians throughout China, particularly in evangelical groups, that are stopped from worshipping; their churches, such as they exist, are damaged or destroyed. It's terrible what's happening to many of these people.

“It's up to individual athletes to take part [but] I would ask them to think carefully about what they may be endorsing.  I don't believe in supporting boycotts run by governments but I do think that people can think about it themselves and make that decision.”

The Games are set to go ahead in February despite concerns surrounding the coronavirus; the International Olympic Committee is remaining steadfast, and are not considering a delay, according to reports.

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