Haley: Americans Face 'Enormous Risk the Minute They Set Foot in China' for Olympics

Human rights groups organizing athletes to protest Opening Ceremonies

A paramilitary policeman at a 2022 Beijing Olympics facility / Getty Images
February 4, 2022

Americans participating in the Beijing Winter Olympics will face enormous risk, former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the Washington Free Beacon on the heels of reports that athletes from around the world are gearing up to protest the opening ceremonies.

"Protesting Communist China's human rights abuses is incredibly brave, and we should have these athletes' backs," Haley said. "They will face enormous risk the minute they set foot in China. President Biden must do everything possible to ensure every American athlete is out of harm's way."

Human rights groups are organizing global athletes around a large-scale protest of the opening ceremonies in a stand of solidarity with the victims of Communist China's mass human rights abuses, most notably the genocide of the Uyghur ethnic minority.

Haley, who has been a vocal critic of the games and the Biden administration's only partial boycott of them, on Thursday slammed the Communist regime, tweeting, "Communist China isn't wasting a second trying to dominate the world and all we're doing is infighting. You can't go half-ass on China."

As the 2022 Winter Games are set to begin Friday, human rights groups across the world have increasingly called for boycotting the Olympics to send a message to China that the regime's human rights violations will not stand. These organizations see the games as a high-profile opportunity to raise awareness about China's ongoing genocide of the ethnic minority Uyghurs, who are routinely tortured, surveilled, and forced into work camps.

"For several months, U.S.-based activists have been meeting with Olympic athletes from several Western countries to urge them to speak out on the Chinese government's mass atrocities and severe repression of Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hong Kongers, and other groups inside China," the Washington Post's Josh Rogin reported on Wednesday. "The athletes, facing the threat of punishment from the Chinese government if they talk about human rights, have almost all avoided addressing the subject in public."

China has made clear that it will punish foreigners who make political statements during the games, potentially endangering Americans and other athletes who risk being detained by a regime known for brutally silencing critics.

"Any behavior or speeches that is against the Olympic spirit, especially against Chinese laws and regulations, are also subject to certain punishment," Yang Shu, deputy director general of international relations for the Beijing Organizing Committee, was quoted as saying at a press conference late last month.

In the face of these threats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) warned U.S. athletes against offending the Communist government. "Do not risk incurring the anger of the Chinese government because they are ruthless," she said.

China also is ramping up surveillance operations as the Olympics approach, indicating that the Communist regime plans to spy on foreigners who travel to Beijing. Athletes have already been warned that their electronics, including phones and computers, are at risk of being infiltrated by the Chinese government.

While the Biden administration will not send any diplomats or officials to represent the United States at the games, it has rebuffed pressure to fully boycott the Olympics, irritating China hawks in Congress.

Haley told the Free Beacon last month that "President Biden's diplomatic boycott means nothing to a regime that's imprisoning activists and committing genocide without consequences. Our athletes are at risk, and yet we've heard nothing from the administration on what they plan to do to protect them."