Felix Loch on the Innsbruck train (archive picture)
Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
Three-time Olympic luge champion Felix Loch would welcome a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing along the lines of the USA or Great Britain.
But only such a diplomatic boycott makes sense, the 32-year-old emphasized in the ARD daily topics - a boycott by the athletes, however, does not.
He was against "passing the buck to us athletes and saying you have to boycott so that something changes there," Loch said.
Many athletes have »only one chance to go to the Olympics«, this chance should not be taken away from them.
The allocation of the games to Beijing was a mistake years ago.
It had already been seen before "that nothing is changing when it comes to human rights" and also when it comes to freedom of the media.
That's why it was clear from the start "that it would be a bit difficult".
"And what we are now experiencing with Corona does not make the whole thing any easier," he added.
EU struggles for a common stance – UN Secretary-General on board
Three weeks before the start of the Olympic Games in Beijing, the EU is still struggling to find a common position on a diplomatic boycott. It is still the case that voting within the European Union on this issue is still ongoing, said Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) on Thursday in Berlin. “This process is not yet complete in every respect.” The topic could also play a role at the EU foreign ministers' meeting in Brest, France, on Friday.
The USA announced weeks ago that it would not be sending any official representatives to the games from February 4th to 20th in China. Australia, Canada, Great Britain and New Zealand joined. The background is above all the human rights situation in the most populous country in the world. The leadership in Beijing has been criticized for its dealings with the Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang province and the Tibetans, but also for the suppression of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong and threats against Taiwan.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres, on the other hand, will travel to Beijing for the opening ceremony. The Portuguese announced this on Thursday in New York. "First of all, the Olympics is an extremely important event, and it's an event that symbolizes the role of sport in bringing people together and promoting peace," Guterres said. He therefore intends to be present "without any political dimension" at the opening ceremony on February 4, "with the message that the Olympic Games must be an instrument for peace in the world".
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) and Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) announced at the end of December that they would not be traveling to the games in Beijing.
However, both made it clear that these are personal decisions that have nothing to do with the fundamental political decision on a diplomatic boycott.
Scholz did not answer the question of whether he had already personally decided for or against a trip at a press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Thursday.