The world – and Olympics – sliding toward authoritarianism



The authoritarian challenge to democracy and human rights is arguably the defining geopolitical story of our time. But rather than oppose this trend, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) seems to be participating in it, notes Jules Boykoff, the author of five books on the Olympic Games, includingPower Games: A Political History of the Olympics.”

Faced with an opportunity to align their sentiments and actions, the overlords of the Olympics have instead accelerated the Games’ years-long shift into an economic juggernaut and ideological black hole with sport appended to its flank, he writes for POLITICO:

Were the IOC to use its leverage over autocratic hosts to push for change, or if it simply used its own behavior to set an example, some critics might be more forgiving. Instead, the group itself appears to be sliding deeper into an opaque, autocratic approach.

 Jens Weinreich, a German investigative journalist who has been tracking Olympic powerbrokers for three decades, told me, “The IOC itself is a totalitarian system. More than ever.”

The systemic competition with China’s authoritarian state capitalism is not just about the future of democracy but so much more, says Daniela Schwarzer, the executive director for Europe and Eurasia at the Open Society Foundations. And countries like Hungary and Poland’s descent into illiberalism not only obstructs a more forward-leaning China policy but also undermines the EU’s credibility as a defender of the rule of law, she writes for POLITICO.

Credit: Badiucao

Xi has inherited an unsolvable dilemma: he wants the outside world to accept his dynamic version of Chinese autocracy, and also to fear it and respect it, notes  Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society. His Olympics opening ceremony was all peace and love. But on Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet, and Xinjiang—and in his standoffs with Australia, Canada, India, and the United States—he’s aggressive and unyielding, lest compromise be viewed as weakness.

The tragic result is that even as China approaches its dream of restored wealth and power after a century and a half of struggle and failure, its success is now being put in jeopardy by a leader who cannot let go of an outdated Leninist narrative of grievance and hostility, he writes for Foreign Affairs. 

In Changeless China? An odyssey into the world’s most durable gulag, Schell recalls the 1991 CBS 60 Minutes report he helped arrange on the PRC’s forced labor camps in a segment that aired on September 15, 1991, notes the Hoover Institution’s Sharp Power alert. As the U.S. Government seeks to implement the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, Schell offers valuable insights into the scope and scale of the Chinese Communist Party’s crimes and the danger individuals have put themselves into to make those crimes known to the world.

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