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Airbnb Called Upon By Human Rights Groups To Drop Sponsorship Of 2022 Winter Olympics in China

Airbnb Called Upon By Human Rights Groups To Drop Sponsorship Of 2022 Winter Olympics in China

A coalition of more than 150 human rights organizations has called on Airbnb Inc (NASDAQ: ABNB) to cancel its sponsorship connections with the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

What Happened: In an open letter to Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, the #NoBeijing2022 coalition challenged the home-sharing business to acknowledge rights violations committed by the Chinese government

“In November 2019, Airbnb made a statement concerning the company’s Olympic partnership, stating it would ensure Games would be ‘accessible’ in line with Airbnb’s mission ‘where anyone can belong,’” the letter said.

“With over 2 million Uyghurs arbitrarily detained in internment camps, with pro-democracy activists being rounded up en masse in Hong Kong, and with Tibet now listed as the least free place in the world, alongside Syria, it is hard to imagine how this will be the case.”

The letter detailed Chinese policies that limit the mobility of Tibetans and Uyghurs, thus making them “unable to freely travel to watch the 2022 Winter Games.” The coalition also defined the policies involving the Uyghurs as “genocide” and challenged Airbnb to influence the Chinese government on changing its policies.

“With over 220 countries and regions with Airbnb listings, and over 4 million hosts who have welcomed over 800 million guests across the globe, Airbnb is hugely influential — and it has the power to help stop this injustice,” the letter stated. “Partnering with a government whose policies go against the very core of Airbnb’s public commitment to human rights, is an affront to that original mission. Airbnb should not sidestep those values to reap the financial rewards that come with sponsoring a major sporting event that is taking place in such a repressive environment.”

What Happens Next: Airbnb is one of 15 companies in the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Partner Program — others include Coca-Cola Co (NYSE: KO), Visa Inc (NYSE: V) and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE: BABA) — but it was the only one targeted by the coalition.

The Chinese government has angrily pushed back at efforts to organize a boycott, either by participating nations or corporate sponsors, of the Winter Olympics.

“It is highly irresponsible for some parties to try and disrupt, intervene, and sabotage the preparation and holding of the games to serve their political interests,” said Wang Wenbin, spokesperson of China’s foreign ministry, during a press conference last month.

“Such actions will not be supported by the international community and will never succeed.”

The IOC has sought to avoid being involved in discussing China’s human rights policies, issuing a statement that insisted the organization “has neither the mandate nor the capability to change the laws or the political system of a sovereign country.”

The Winter Olympics are scheduled to begin on February 4, 2022.

Benzinga contacted Airbnb regarding the coalition’s letter, but has yet to receive a response.

(Photo: Olympic logo on Hong Kong Art Museum, 2008, Photo by Xiaowei, via WIki Commons)


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