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Political boycott of Beijing Olympic Games is meaningless, says president of World Athletics Saturday, 01 January 2022

Political boycott of Beijing Olympic Games is meaningless, says president of World Athletics

The gold medal winner (pictured) has long employed such a stance, going back to 1980 when as an athlete he challenged the prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s opposition to the Moscow Games, fighting for the right of British athletes to compete.

Coe remains steadfast in his view on boycotts. “Boycotts, on balance are historically illiterate and intellectually dishonest” he said. “A political boycott is, frankly, meaningless. And in a world where I think discussion and relationships are important, rarely do I see isolation bearing fruit.

That’s not to be an apologist for countries that do not conform to the basic standards around human rights. I’ve never witnessed sport leaving any country in worse shape than when it’s been there.”

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Speaking on the topic of leading female Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, who apparently disappeared after accusing the former vice premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault – an accusation that she later denied making – Coe said “Every athlete has to have basic human rights. They need to be able to voice their opinions and they need to do that in a way that is free and open.”

That said, Coe does not agree with the decision taken by the Women’s Tennis Association to boycott China.

“It’s not an approach we would take in world athletics,” he said. “And I don’t think over the long haul, it is one that actually achieves a great deal.”

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