By Nick Butler

Pro-Tibet groups are calling on the IOC to reject Beijing's bid for the 2022 Olympics and Paralympics ©International Tibet NetworkA global coalition of 175 pro-Tibet organisations today published a report calling for Beijing's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics to be rejected, claiming China had failed to keep its promises over improving human rights when it staged the 2008 Games. 

The timing of the report, due to be hand-delivered today to the International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne, has been designed to coincide with the IOC Evaluation Commission's visit to China, which is due to begin next Tuesday (March 24).

Entitled Losing the bet on human rights: Beijing and the Olympic Games, the report will be distributed to IOC members.

The title is a reference to the IOC's promise hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in the Chinese capital would help improve human rights. 

But problems have in reality worsened, it is claimed, with "concerted attacks" on dissent and human rights defenders since Xi Jinping became Chinese President in 2012, as well as greater repression in Tibet, the south-western region which has long struggled to gain independence.

Holding the Games in China again would therefore be a further blemish on the IOC's already blemished record regarding human rights, the report concludes.

The IOC could face more years of protests, following those by pro-gay rights groups ahead of Sochi 2014 ©AFP/Getty ImagesThe IOC could face more years of protests, following those by pro-gay rights groups ahead of Sochi 2014 ©AFP/Getty Images

"The old saying goes, 'Fool me once, shame on you: fool me twice, shame on me'," said Alistair Currie, campaigns and media manager of Free Tibet, one of four groups which co-authored the report.

"The IOC wanted to believe that China would get all dewy-eyed and idealistic under the influence of the 2008 Games.

"The reality was that instead of increased sensitivity to human rights in Beijing, we saw increased self-confidence that abusing them was no problem on the world stage.

"The IOC can't afford to get it wrong again.

"For China, the Games are about polishing its image and boosting its global standing, if it cares about the battered reputation of the Olympics, the IOC can't give them this PR gift a second time around."

Pro-Tibetan opposition caused a storm of protests ahead of Beijing 2008, both inside and outside China, which increased after a Chinese suppression against the Tibetan uprising was put down in March 2008.

Protesters disrupted the international leg of the Beijing 2008 Torch Relay and were involved in various other demonstrations, amid much criticism of the IOC stance. 

Pro Tibetan supporters during the London leg of the Beijing 2008 Torch Relay ©AFP/Getty ImagesPro Tibetan supporters during the London leg of the Beijing 2008 Torch Relay
©AFP/Getty Images

Since then, the IOC has also come under fire ahead of the Sochi 2014 Games, particularly over Russia's alleged persecution of gay rights in the months building up to the Games. 

Beijing and its only remaining rival in the 2022 race, Almaty, have already faced human rights criticisms this time around, with Human Rights Watch alleging restrictions on freedom of expression and press independence in Kazakhstan.

The IOC insist they "asked for and received assurances" that both candidates will comply with new Olympic Charter requirements regarding human rights, introduced last year as part of the Agenda 2020 reform process.

IOC President Thomas Bach has recently claimed the Games helps bring "tolerance, respect and fair play" to host nations.

He added that the IOC does not always support the political or the legal systems in place in these host countries, an admission that seemingly leaves him open to many more questions on his opinions regarding Tibet and other contentious issues. 

"It would be foolish on the IOC's part to bet again on things improving in Tibet," added Tenzin Jigdal, international coordinator for the International Tibet Network.

"Beijing was awarded the 2008 Olympics on the same premise and events showed how unrealistic it was.

"Instead we saw widespread suppression and crackdown in Tibet.

"The IOC should also be mindful that their wrong decision last time caused global outcry and led to a worldwide campaign by Tibet's supporters.

"The IOC should be in no doubt that this will happen again."

The IOC Commission, chaired by Russia's Alexander Zhukov, is scheduled to visit Beijing - widely seen as the frontrunner in the two-horse contest - from March 24 to 28, with a final decision as to which city will host the Games due at the IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur on July 31. 

To read the full report click here

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
March 2015: IOC does not always agree with political or legal systems in host countries, admits Bach