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02/03/2022 Washington, D.C. — As the world gathers for the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics on Friday, we prepare to embrace the globally forged spirit of competition — a tradition we cherish every four years. However, not since 1980 have the Olympics become such a contentious topic.  

This becomes the second Olympic games overshadowed by the prolonged anxiety around the COVID-19 pandemic and the first occurring against a backdrop of genocide and persecution in plain sight. While we may have believed this would be an occurrence left in the past, the world is only now coming to terms with the blind eye it has held toward the ongoing crisis of persecution of religious and ethnic minorities underway in China.  

To our collective shock, China has kept its mantle as the 2022 Winter Olympics host, making it the first host country in recent memory to formally warn its incoming athletes of the consequences speaking out against Chinese laws would have, laws which have enabled the harassment and persecution of religious minorities.  

The Suffering of Those Off Camera

While our prayers are with the athletes who will go and stand tall for their respective countries through the mastery of their sport, we cannot help but stop and reflect on those within the country who are suffering for their stand for their faith. 

For decades, the world has witnessed the brutality of China’s actions against Christians and religious minorities. Under its current leadership, China has expanded this persecution – yet people of faith stand tall. Chinese Christians have faced systematic harassment, detainment, and are often arrested for their faith.

Over these next two weeks, we hope you will stick with us as we share the stories of those living under Chinese rule with a relentless pursuit of their faith. These champions may not be winning the 800 meters this year, but they continue to run the race set out for them. They may wear irons over gold, yet they continue to display their faith like trophies of their own, knowing it comes at a cost. These individuals demonstrate the perseverance and commitment to be recognized as our Olympians of faith – they are our persecuted family. 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 

For interviews, please contact: press@persecution.org

This story is part of ICC’s series Shackled to the Podium, a series where we remember those who have suffered or are currently suffering persecution by the Chinese Communist Party on account of their faith. This series will populate daily for the duration of the 2022 Beijing Olympics.