A global coalition of pro-Tibet organisations have launched a petition urging the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to reject Beijing's bid for the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games following the release of the IOC's Evaluation Commission report into the bid of the Chinese capital and its only rival, Almaty in Kazakhstan.
Both prospective host nations have come under fire for their human rights policies in recent weeks, with the IOC Report revealing both have provided “written assurances regarding human rights, the right to demonstrate, media freedom to report on the Games with no restrictions on the Internet, labour rights, displacement and environmental protection”.
They are also confident both Governments would take all "necessary measures" to ensure the Olympic Charter and Host City Contract would be respected.
But the pro-Tibetan petition calls on the IOC "not to reward China’s oppression with the Olympic Games again".
“Since the 2008 Games, China’s aggressive and unrelenting crackdown against freedom and human rights has increased two-fold," a release to coincide with the petitions release claims.
"For Tibetans every inch of their life is under siege…
"To award Beijing another Olympic Games, in the knowledge of the ongoing serious abuses, is akin to saying that torture and repression are acceptable to the world community.”
The petition, accessible here, has so far garnered almost 3,000 signatures.
As they did ahead of Beijing 2008 Games, pro-Tibet groups are using the Games to project their cause, with Beijing 2022 bid officials having told insidethegames during the March Evaluation Commission inspection that they "oppose any behaviour aimed at achieving their own political goals while opposing the bid for the Olympic Winter Games".
Almaty has also received plenty of criticism of the Central Asian nation's human rights record, particularly last month when reports surfaced that a law outlawing the "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" was being proposed, similar to the one which provoked so much international fury ahead of Sochi 2014.
But, according to local reports, this proposal has now been abandoned as it was “not in line with the constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan”, with the Olympic bid seen as an influential factor in the decision.
In what has become a remarkably low-key race since the withdrawal of European contenders Stockholm, Kraków, Lviv and Oslo last year, the Tibetan announcement was one of the only reactions to the release of the 137-page report yesterday, which contained some praise but also plenty of criticism of each bid.
Questions over Beijing's complete reliance on artificial snow and Almaty's dependence on economic stability in order to afford the Games have been highlighted as particular concerns.
Both bid teams have however reacted positively to the release.
Beijing have claimed how the report hails their "assured Games delivery and huge Winter sport potential".
“Our strong desire to host an excellent Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2022 has received a significant boost from today’s IOC Evaluation Commission report, which recognises the Bid’s strengths..." said Bid leader and Beijing Mayor, Wang Anshun.
"Including world-class sports venues and infrastructure with identified legacy use, huge market potential, tremendous public and Government support, legacy plan closely linked to regional economic development plan and strategy to develop winter sports and related industry.
“The report and our dialogue with the IOC over recent weeks have been highly valuable given our commitment to review any areas where we can make additional improvements, building on our strong bid to ensure it is truly the best offer we can make to the Olympic Movement.”
Almaty meanwhile, is "very encouraged and pleased" with the report's content.
"We are grateful for this report," said the city's Mayor Akhmetzhan Yessimov.
"Of course there is still work to be done.
"But the city is growing every year, and with most venues already in place at latest in 2017, we can focus on these issues.
"No new major infrastructure project is needed, and we will already have an experienced team on the ground for the OCOG (Organising Committee for the Olympic Games) due to the Universiade [in 2017], which is unique."
IOC members will now have a week to study the report ahead of the 2022 Candidate Cities Briefing that will be held on June 9 and 10 in Lausanne, ahead of a final decision at the IOC Session duenin Kuala Lumpur on July 31.
During the Briefing, both candidates will have the opportunity to present their candidatures to the IOC members and the Presidents and secretaries general of the International Olympic Winter Federations and answer their questions, while, for the first time, the Evaluation Commission will present a report at the Briefing and be available to answer members’ questions.
May 2015: Reliance on artificial snow and "budget risks" highlighted in 2022 Olympic race Evaluation Commission reports
May 2015: Letter sent to IOC calling for pressure on Kazakhstan to drop proposed anti-gay rights bill
March 2015: Beijing 2022 criticise those who use Olympic bid to "achieve political goals"
March 2015: IOC "can't afford" to award Olympics to China again, claims pro-Tibet groups