(Beijing) The President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach met Saturday in Beijing with Prime Minister Li Qiang, the two men notably expressing their opposition to the “politicization of sport”, according to an official media.
“China will continue to spread the Olympic spirit,” Li Qiang promised Thomas Bach, according to comments reported by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.
“We are willing to work with the IOC to oppose the politicization of sport and make new and greater contributions to the Olympic movement,” he continued.
“The IOC is ready to defend the Olympic spirit, to resist the politicization of sport and to promote mutual understanding and solidarity among human beings,” replied Thomas Bach, still according to CCTV.
This is the traditional position of the IOC.
After the Summer Olympics in 2008, the Chinese capital organized the Winter Games in February 2022, marked by numerous Western criticisms, in particular concerning the treatment of the Uyghurs and the former Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai.
Beijing then denounced a desire to “politicize” the competition.
The Olympic Charter, which codifies the principles of Olympism, opposes any “kind of demonstration or political propaganda” at an Olympic site and calls for the “political neutrality” of the movement.
Before the 2022 Olympics, China had been criticized for its treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang (northwest), a region long hit by bloody attacks attributed to separatists and Islamists from this Muslim minority.
In the name of anti-terrorism, Beijing imposes increased control of the population there. According to some Western studies, it ended in mass internment.
A few months before the Games, ex-tennis player Peng Shuai found herself at the heart of a global affair after describing on the internet her toxic romantic relationship with a former top communist leader whom she accused of having forced sex.
The WTA, which oversees women’s tennis, then announced at the end of 2021 the suspension – lifted in April 2023 – of its tournaments in China, Beijing denouncing at the time a new “politicization of sport”.
As for Peng Shuai, a silent time, she then made public appearances again, especially during the Winter Olympics where she met Thomas Bach.
The latter will travel in the coming days to Hangzhou (in the east of the country) and Shanghai, according to the official news agency New China.