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Do sporting boycotts work?

Both the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and the Qatar 2022 World Cup have faced calls for boycotts due to human rights abuses. But refusing to participate in a tournament has not always been a successful form of protest

By David Goldblatt  

Photo: REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

Nearly 80 percent of the Japanese public would like the Tokyo Olympic games, rescheduled from this July, to be postponed or cancelled altogether, according to the most recent polls. The small—but now energised—anti-Olympic movement is calling for the world to stay away.

Meanwhile, the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, scheduled to start in February next year, have faced calls for a boycott since they were awarded to China in 2015. In recent months, the pressing complaints from representatives of China’s Uighur minority, Tibetans and global human rights groups has been joined by democracy activists in Hong Kong, and energised by…

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