PE Ledger

Team Canada should boycott Beijing 2022, according to a two-time Olympic snowboarder


In light of China’s numerous problematic issues, Drew Neilson believes a boycott is a morally proper thing to do.

Drew Neilson spent a large part of his childhood chasing podiums down icy slopes all around the world.

He was also successful, winning the X-Games, the Crystal Globe as overall World Cup winner in snowboard cross in 2007, and selection to the Canadian Olympic teams in Turin 2006 and Vancouver 2010.

But, now that he’s retired for a decade, he says he can’t help but speak out about the 2022 Beijing Olympics and the International Olympic Committee’s desire to work with China, advocating for a complete boycott of the games by Canada.

“I’m extremely repulsed. I no longer need to be referred to as an Olympian “he remarked from his North Vancouver home.

“The IOC recognises human rights as inscribed in both the Olympic Charter’s fundamental principles and its code of conduct, and they claim to take this responsibility extremely seriously. Do they, however?”

Neilson believes there is no way to reconcile China’s declared Olympic ideals with the country’s long list of troubling issues, including Uyghur internment and human rights violations, aggressive expansionism, the detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and the Peng Shuai case, to name a few.

He claims that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s diplomatic boycott, launched earlier this month, does not go far enough.

“I’m really disgusted. I don’t even want to be called an Olympian anymore,” said Neilson. 

“I am not opposed to the Olympics. I oppose defending the group in charge and [the country] to which they are transporting it “he stated

Neilson’s demand for a boycott appears to be an outlier among athletes, particularly among those who were involved in Canada’s boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow.

Moscow, according to former Olympic swimmer Eugene Gyorfi, is proof that boycotts do not succeed.

In 1978, he was 16 years old when his parents remortgaged their Kitimat house to help pay for better training possibilities in Vancouver so he could compete in the Olympics. Until politics took control, their sacrifices paid off.

Gyorfi was chosen for the 1980 Olympic team just weeks after Canada announced it would boycott the Moscow Games in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, as had the United States.

“I still have the government letter announcing the boycott and stating that it was not limited to athletes. Farmers would not sell grain to Russians, according to the report, and a range of actions would be taken to show the Russians that they were wrong “Gyorfi stated.

“It didn’t make a difference… they didn’t withdraw their troops, and they didn’t change their political policies.”

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