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The IOCs Treatment of Missing Chinese Tennis Star Peng Shuai is Disturbingly On-Brand

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Phil Walter/Getty

Shuai disappeared from public view for two weeks. The Womens Tennis Association, which does a lot of business in China, openly criticized the governments response to Shuais accusations, a big no-no for leagues looking to operate in the country, while tennis stars brought worldwide attention to the matter. On Nov. 17, Chinese State Media released a dubious statement they claimed was from Shuai, where she said the accusation was false, and that the WTA shouldnt say anything else about her without clearing it with her first.

Another video shared by Chinese state media, purportedly taken the following morning, claimed to show Shuai attending a tennis match, though again the video was brief and shot in close-up, which led to accusations that it too was potentially staged:

ishonest No.171 - Pre-Sun Exposure

No.171 - Pre-Sun Exposure

Not a terribly convincing series of posts regarding Shuais wellbeing. The WTA continues to be pissed about this, claiming that they are willing to pull out of their China events if the government doesnt conduct a full investigation into Shuais claims. (A dubious commitment if you ask me, but its nice that theyre trying.)

The WTA, on the other hand, has thus far been unable to speak with Shuai. Then again, their stance on this has been that they wish to confirm she has freedom of movement and isnt being coerced into giving statements because she fears for her safety. The IOC, on the other hand, is playing it nice and cool. Just ask Dick Pound, their longest-serving board member: What the IOC established is that quiet and discreet diplomacy gets you better than clashing cymbals Thats not the way you deal with any country, certainly not with China. To accuse the IOC of being complicit with a Chinese propaganda effort built around Peng is complete nonsense.

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Now, Im loath to suggest that Xis government is on a par, atrocity-wise, with Hitlers regime. But the shame of Berlin 1936and the IOCs deference to the propaganda ministers of Nazi Germanyshould be the first thing the IOC thinks about whenever they decide to do business anywhere. Its not, of course. If anything, the Nazi German Olympics, which cost the German government a whopping $30 million (U.S.) to stagemore than all of the previous games combinedhas become the IOCs model for every installment of Games ever since. Following Berlin, the IOC grew used to working with flexible governments who would pony up for the privilege and prestige of hosting the games and who would double down on insane spectacle reaching every monetizable eyeball it possibly can. Even after the historic disaster of '36, considerations like democracy and state violence get a hat-tip right before getting thrown in the dumpster full of money they extract from the communities they descend on.

Like every other capricious pillar of global capital in the world, the IOC insists that their giant money-printing operation actually brings peace and progressa harbor for an open world that spreads democracy far and wide. In 2001, when China was first awarded the games, Franois Carrard, then the IOCs Director General, said that the IOC was ...totally aware there is one issue on the table, and that is human rights. Either you say because of some serious human-rights issues, we close the door, deliver a vote that is regarded as a sanction, and hope things evolve better. The other way is to bet on openness. We are taking the bet that we will see many changes.

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They did see changes after the Beijing Olympics, of course. The PRC became more oppressive, crushing dissent throughout the country, wielding surveillance technology like no other government in human history, employing a soft-power approach to silencing even cursory protest from their global corporate partners, and locking up as many as 2 million Uighurs in what critics have called an ongoing genocide.

The LAPD also took the opportunity to hire and quickly train a bunch of new officers, who got down to doing the important work of sweeping as many unhoused people away from the LA Coliseum as humanly possible. Then, when the Olympics ended, they actually kept the money and the tank and the SWAT teams and the militarized approach. Los Angeles is slated to host the games again in 2028, and the LAPD is already greasing the wheels for another massive, permanent budget increase, utilizing the games as a pretense.

The Olympic Rings sit on display outside the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

David Ramos/Getty

Fun fact: Did you know that the Olympic Torch Relay was the brainchild of Nazi bureaucrat Carl Diem? The torch was lit at Mount Olympus, the site of the ancient Greek Games, and traveled through Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Austria, and Czechoslovakia, before arriving in Berlin, where the flame was lit by German athlete and future IOC functionary Fritz Schilgen and used to light a massive cauldron in the middle of the Olympic Stadium, surrounded by hundreds of red swastika flags.

The symbolism of a flame leaving the birthplace of Western civilization, streaking through a series of countries that Hitler would invade in the next decade, and finding its climactic home in the heart of the burgeoning Nazi empire is pretty chilling, in retrospect. You would think the IOC would have thrown this thing in the trash the second the war ended and they were ready to resume operations. But they just dont think like that. Their websites remembrance of the event doesnt mention these sinister energies at all, or that in 1945 Diem gave a speech in Olympic Stadium to thousands of Hitler Youths, encouraging them to resist the Red Army to the point of death, like the Spartans of old. They just dont care about the vileness theyve enabled at all. Appealing to their good nature is a waste of time. They dont have one.

Read more on: thedailybeast, treatment, shuai

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