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Voice of the Martyrs Calls for a ‘Prayer Boycott’ of the 2022 Winter Olympics

2022 winter olympics
FILE - In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping tours the National Speed Skating Oval, a competition venue for the 2022 Winter Olympics, in Beijing, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022. China has undergone history-making change since the last time it was an Olympic host in 2008: It is richer, more heavily armed and openly confrontational. (Shen Hong/Xinhua via AP, File)

Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), an organization that serves persecuted Christians around the world, is joining other like-minded groups in calling Christians to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China. VOM’s call to action is unique, however, in that the group is asking believers to participate in a “prayer boycott.”

The Olympics are always filled with wonderful pageantry and inspiring athletic accomplishments,” said VOM spokesperson Todd Nettleton in a press release. “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. 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.”

2022 Winter Olympics and Calls for Boycotts

The 2022 Winter Olympics are set to begin Feb. 4 and run through Feb. 20. The Biden administration has implemented a “diplomatic boycott” of the Games, meaning that while the government will support the American athletes who are participating, no U.S. officials will attend. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said this decision is due to China’s “egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang.” Other countries that have implemented diplomatic boycotts include Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

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Open Doors, another organization that supports persecuted Christians, is also calling for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics. Every January, Open Doors releases its World Watch List, which ranks the top 50 countries in the world where Christians face the worst persecution for their faith. At the release of the 2020 World Watch List, Open Doors president and CEO David Curry drew attention to China on account of its leaders creating what he called “a ‘persecution roadmap’ against religious faith.”

At the release of the 2022 World Watch List, Curry reiterated his concerns about China, citing the social score leaders are giving citizens, the government’s use of facial recognition technology, and the numerous ways officials are suppressing religious freedom. Authorities are not only suppressing the rights of Christians but also of other religious minorities, most notably the Uyghur Muslims. The Trump administration declared China’s treatment of the Uyghurs, who are located in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, to be “genocide,” a label the Biden administration has retained. 

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Moreover, churches in China are being forced to go underground, online churches are heavily monitored, and the government approved Three-Self Church is not permitted to meet online at all. Chinese leaders are censoring sermons and even editing the Bible.

Open Doors is calling on “every Christian in our nation to join this boycott of the Olympics in the name of our persecuted brothers and sisters in China,” said Curry, who clarified that Open Doors is asking people not even to watch the Olympics on TV.