Republicans promise sanctions for IOC if any US athletes go missing during Beijing Olympics

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EXCLUSIVE: Wisconsin Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher will introduce legislation Thursday night to sanction the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should any athlete, fan, member of the press or Olympic participant fall victim to “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”

The bill, which already has the backing from top Republicans like Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Michael McCaul, is a warning to IOC officials that they could face repercussions should the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) take targeted action against those who protest Beijing’s human rights abuses.

Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., left, a former Marine, speaks during a roundtable discussion with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“Brave athletes from around the world are planning to boycott tomorrow’s opening ceremony in protest of the CCP’s ongoing genocide in Xinjiang. But rather than support these athletes’ freedom of expression, the IOC has worked to dissuade them from highlighting the CCP’s gross violations of human rights,” Gallagher told Fox News Digital. 

Under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, gross violations of internationally recognized human rights are defined as prolonged detention without a charge or trial, as well as the disappearance of an individual through abduction or clandestine detention.

Torture, inhuman and degrading treatment is also recognized under the act.

“If any athlete or fan at the Olympics pays a price for exercising their internationally-recognized rights, the IOC should be deemed complicit in these crimes,” Gallagher added.

Tibetans use the Olympic Rings as a prop as they hold a street protest against the holding of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, in Dharmsala, India. 
(AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia, File)

The IOC has faced fierce criticism from Republicans on the Hill for its “complicity” in human rights abuses by refusing to move the Games despite China’s reputation for gross human rights abuses.

The committee again faced criticism after the disappearance of Chinese Tennis star Peng Shuai, following her accusation that she was sexually assaulted by a Chinese government official in a now-deleted social media post in November.

U.S. agencies have warned athletes and their teams that even “private electronic messages” critical of the Chinese government could prove detrimental. 

Drew Pavlou, left, and Max Mok show some of the 1,000 shirts they plan to hand out to patrons ahead of Saturday’s women’s singles final at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022.
(AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)

The Department of Defense has also urged all Americans to leave their personal cellphones at home and rely on temporary phones instead while in China.

The IOC has a long-standing political protest ban that prohibits athletes from politically protesting during the Games. 

But in addition to the threat of removal from the Games, Chinese officials have also warned that athletes could face “certain punishment” for speaking out against human rights abuses. 

“Any behavior or speech that is against the Olympic spirit, especially against the Chinese laws and regulations, are also subject to certain punishment,” Yang Shu, deputy director-general of international relations for the Beijing Organizing Committee said during a January press conference. 

The Winter Olympics are set to begin Friday. 

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