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Beijing 2022: Enes Kanter Freedom urges athletes to boycott the Winter Olympics

By on January 14, 2022 0
Beijing 2022: “Choose morals over money” – Enes Kanter Freedom

NBA player Enes Kanter Freedom has urged athletes to boycott the Winter Olympics in China.

Three weeks before the opening ceremony in Beijing, the Boston Celtics player said athletes should choose “morals over money”.

In an interview with Dan Roan on the BBC The Sports Office Podcast, Kanter Freedom criticized China’s human rights record.

“As we speak right now, genocide is happening,” he said.

“It’s important for athletes to use their platform to be the voice for all the innocent people around the world who have no voice.

“There are so many athletes and actors and singers and rappers, or people who have platforms, who are afraid to say a word because obviously there is so much business involved, so much money involved, and sometimes obviously China pays the bills so they’re afraid to say a word.”

Last year, the British government declared for the first time that a genocide takes place against the Uyghurs and others in northwest China. The Chinese government denies all accusations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

Kanter Freedom, born in Switzerland and raised in Turkey, changed its name to Liberty after gaining U.S. citizenship — spoke out repeatedly on Chinese policy in Tibet, the incarceration of its Uyghur Muslim minority, and other issues. He told the Sports Desk that he was speaking directly with the Olympians.

“I sat down with many other athletes and had a conversation with them. The first topic I always tell them is, ‘Look what they did to their own tennis player Peng Shuai. really trust them with our own players?’”

Concerns were raised over Peng’s safety and well-being last year after the former Wimbledon women’s doubles champion retracted allegations of sexual coercion she had made against former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli and retired from public life.

“I feel like all the athletes have to come out and say ‘I can’t play a game where there’s genocide, where there’s all the human rights violations, where there’s people who are tortured and raped in concentration camps,” Kanter told Liberty.

“I still have hope because when I talk to these Olympic athletes I was like, all the gold medals in the world that you can win are not more important than your morals and your principles and your values, so I feel like we have to stand up for the right thing.”

Celtics center recently appeared in shoes with the message “Free Tibet” written on it.

China has long been accused of suppressing cultural and religious freedom in Tibet, a remote and predominantly Buddhist region. The government denies the charges and claims that Tibet has developed considerably under his rule.

“You see so many different people like Tibetans, Hong Kongers, Taiwanese, Uighurs, Mongolians are suffering,” he said. “So I can’t just think of all the business implications, or keep silent, so I had to say something.”

Kanter Freedom has had its name blocked on major Chinese social media platform Weibo after calling Chinese President Xi Jinping a “brutal dictator”. Boston Celtics games have also been banned from streaming sites in China.

He also criticized the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for holding the Winter Games in China.

“They are part of the problem because China does not respect human rights, friendship or freedom of expression,” he said. “Shame on the IOC for organizing the Olympic Games in a country like China.”

While the UK, US, Canada and Australia have announced diplomatic boycotts of the Winter Olympics, which take place February 4-20 and are followed March 4-13 by the Paralympic Games Winter Games, the IOC has declared that it takes a politically neutral position, and that it considers the Games to be an apolitical sporting event.

Kanter Freedom left Turkey for the United States at the age of 17 and later became the third draft pick for Utah Jazz in the 2011 NBA draft.

The 29-year-old is a longtime critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Turkish authorities canceled his passport and issued an international arrest warrant for him in 2019 when they accused him of links to the organizers of a failed coup in 2016. Kanter Freedom’s father was jailed in Turkey following the attempted coup, but has since been acquitted of terrorism charges and released.

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