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IOC, Thomas Bach decline to denounce alleged detention of Uyghurs in China ahead of Beijing Olympics

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The International Olympic Committee and president Thomas Bach skirted a question about human rights concerns in China on Friday.

During a news conference in Tokyo, Associated Press reporter Stephen Wade asked Bach if he would denounce the detention of Uyghurs in the Chinese region Xinjiang. Per multiple reports, IOC spokesman Mark Adams intervened and said that Bach would only answer questions about the Tokyo Games.

Bach will be "happy to answer that when we get to Lausanne," Adams said. The IOC headquarters is located in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Calls for Olympic boycott amid allegations of genocide in China

The question about Uyghurs addressed ongoing concerns about alleged genocide and human rights violations in China, which is scheduled to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The IOC has been criticized for awarding the Olympics to China amid the concerns that have prompted international calls to boycott the Winter Games.

Allegations of genocide against the Uyghurs have prompted calls for a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Games. (VCG via Getty Images)
Allegations of genocide against the Uyghurs have prompted calls for a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Games. (VCG via Getty Images)

In addition to alleged China's alleged human rights violations in Tibet and Hong Kong, the Chinese government is accused of committing genocide against the Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic group of around 12 million people native to Northwest China.

Force labor, mass sterilization allegations

Among the alleged atrocities include mass incarceration of Uyghurs, inflicting slave labor, separating children from families, mass sterilization and conducting re-education camps. In 2018 the United Nations cited credible reports that China was holding up to a million Uyghurs and Muslims in detention centers.

The U.S. has joined other countries including Canada and United Kingdom in leveling accusations of genocide and human rights violations against China. The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, however, declined in May to support a boycott of the Beijing Games, citing the tactic as ineffective and unduly punitive of Olympic athletes.

The Beijing Games are scheduled to start on Feb. 4.

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