Several religious freedom advocacy groups are calling for the boycott of the upcoming Beijing Olympics 2022, including the Voice of the Martyrs, an international organization which aims to protect the rights of Christians all over the world.
The religious freedom advocacy group recently launched a prayer campaign calling upon Christians all over the world to pray for Chinese believers throughout the sporting event.
"The Olympics are always filled with wonderful pageantry and inspiring athletic accomplishments. But let's not forget what the host government doesn't want us to see: imprisoned pastors, destroyed church buildings and a complete lack of religious freedom," Voice of the Martyrs spokesperson Todd Nettleton said via a press release, as reported by the Christian Headlines.
"I hope every Christian will use each event and every Olympic update as a reminder to pray for our persecuted family members in China as the Scriptures instruct us to do," Nettleton remarked. The Voice of the Martyrs also encouraged Christians to pray for their Chinese brothers and sisters in several ways.
Nettleton urged Christians all over the world to pray for the pastors and church leaders in China so they can "stand firmly for biblical truth in spite of government pressure to compromise." He encouraged Christians to pray for the "encouragement of Chinese believers" so that they could experience "unity and fellowship as members of the body of Christ."
Nettleton also highlighted the plight of incarcerated Christians in China, urging the faithful to pray "for their health and nutrition" and that they may have "opportunities to witness for Christ to guards and fellow prisoners."
Lastly, he urged believers that the gospel would be spread amongst the participants of the Beijing Olympics, as well as local, provincial and national Communist Party Leaders. He concluded that Christians must also pray for the "safe distribution" of Bibles throughout China.
As the Beijing Olympics are fast approaching, religious freedom and rights advocates have issued warnings for foreign athletes who are flying to China to participate in the games. The warnings come after Beijing Organizing Committee deputy director general of international relations Yang Shu announced last week that "Any behavior or speech that is against the Olympic spirit, especially against the Chinese laws and regulations, are also subject to certain punishment," the Washington Post reported.
Despite consistent backlash, the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) pushed through with hosting the games in China, where religious persecution of Christians and Muslim minorities, specifically the Uyghurs, have continued throughout the years. Before last year's Summer Games in Tokyo, the IOC announced that athletes who staged protests would be punished. But China's rules appear to be stricter than the IOC's.
The IOC charter's Rule 50 prohibits "demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda" at Olympic venues. China took it a step further by including "speech" that would be subjected to punishment and cited China's own laws, which are known to be more restrictive than other countries. The U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia have established political boycotts of this year's Beijing games.