Some countries and companies are being pressured to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The Games are due to take place between February 4 and 20.
“Western governments and firms face mounting pressure from human rights advocates and political critics of China to boycott the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. China will punish countries that boycott the Games with political sanctions and commercial retaliation, but with much greater severity in the athletic boycott scenario,” according to Eurasia Group analysts.
China regularly persecutes different groups, including Christians. There are an estimated 100 million underground Christians in China. They face sanctions if they are not part of the Communist regulated church. Underground Christians have refused to submit to the Communist regime.
4 Winds Christian Athletics President Steve McConkey dealt with the possibility of a boycott of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Starting in world-class track and field ministries in 1981, McConkey saw the results of the 1980 boycott of the Soviet Union Olympics.
The 1980 athletes were devastated after President Jimmy Carter boycotted the Games because of the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan. Athletes who were at their prime missed great opportunities.
Before the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, McConkey was against a boycott. His letter was published in the Register Guard in Eugene, Oregon. This paper is considered a standard for worldwide track and field athletes. The 2020 USA Olympic Track and Field Trials will be held in Eugene before the Tokyo Olympics this summer. Also, the 2008 Trials were held in Eugene.
Before the 2008 Olympic Games, Senator Lindsey Graham and McConkey protested when reports were coming out of China that athletes would not be able to have Bibles in the Olympic Village. Their work was covered by the Associated Press worldwide. Eventually, the Chinese government said they would not ban Bibles, but athletes should not try to convert people.
Before the 2008 Olympics, McConkey compiled Christian testimonies of Olympic track and field athletes. The ministry no longer does this. In 2008, an underground pastor took the testimonies into the underground church of 100 million people before and during the Olympic Games.
Some of the athletes who had their testimonies distributed were Stephanie Brown Trafton, Bryan Clay, Allison Felix, and Nick Willis. Amongst them, they won 3 gold and 2 silver medals.
Brown Trafton won the first discus gold in 76 years. The athletes gave God the glory after their performances as reported by the Voice of the Martyrs. Brown Trafton and others led Bible studies in the Olympic Village and many athletes attended. They were spontaneous and not supported by the Olympic Committee.
McConkey believes that the 2022 Winter Olympics should not be boycotted. “Every four years, athletes have an opportunity to shine at the Olympics. Countries, businesses, and politicians should not pressure governments to boycott the Games. It will hurt the athletes. Instead, they should pressure the Olympic Committee to make better choices in the future.
“We need to pray that people are set free under the repressive government of China. To wait right before the Olympics to boycott is the wrong approach. This should of been addressed months ago. Pray for the athletes as they prepare and represent the United States, a country that still is free for the most part.”
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Founded in 1988, 4 WINDS USA (4 Winds Christian Athletics) stands up worldwide for Christian athletes (4WindsUSA.com). Starting in world-class track and field ministries in 1981, Steve and Liz McConkey have worked through nine Olympics. In 2013, McConkey started standing up worldwide for Christian athletes in all sports. He was a successful USA National Track and Field Club Coach (82-92) and has ran over 68,000 miles. McConkey graduated with honors from Western Kentucky University (Master of Public Health), Minnesota State University, Mankato (BS-Community Health), and Webster High School (WI).