Longtime Olympic Games sportscaster Bob Costas said the International Olympic Committee is "in bed with China" after the organization took the regime's side on the disappearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai.
"It was apparent to many of us [during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games] that the IOC was aiding and abetting a problematic regime," Costas said in a CNN interview on Thursday. "It's very troubling, their affinity for authoritarian regimes, so it's pretty clear that in the video interview with Peng … they were just giving China cover. It was pretty clear that it was coached, and it was all a setup."
Peng disappeared from public view last month after she accused a top Chinese Communist Party official of sexually assaulting her. While the Women's Tennis Association suspended all tournaments in China over the situation, the IOC downplayed it, saying Peng appeared "safe and well" in a video call.
Costas also pointed to organizations including the NBA and Nike, as well as individual athletes, that have turned a blind eye to China's human rights abuses while being outspoken in their criticism of the United States.
"Some of those people are very outspoken … and sometimes offer sweeping condemnations of their own admittedly imperfect country," Costas said. "But when it comes to China, perhaps the world's leading human rights abuser given its size and its wherewithal, they're mum."
NBA star LeBron James, who has strong business ties to China, has defended China against criticism while speaking out on social justice issues in the United States. In 2019, James slammed then-general manager of the Houston Rockets Daryl Morey for endorsing the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, saying Morey was "not thinking about others and … only thinking about [himself]."
Costas covered the Olympics for NBC Sports from 1988 to 2016. He stepped down from his role as Olympic primetime host in 2017 and has since left NBC.
Lawmakers have increasingly called for a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, which are set to begin in February, in light of Peng's disappearance and China's oppression of the Uyghur population in Xinjiang.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) said last month a boycott is the "absolute bare minimum that any civilized nation would do for these genocide Olympics" considering China's "crimes against the world."