Airbnb denounced by Uighur rights campaigners in China

China: Airbnb has been urged to withdraw its support for the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Games by campaigners in China fighting for the rights of Uighur Muslims in the country.

The End the Uighur Genocide Movement has been gaining traction around the world for their public support of Uighur Muslims, who are alleged to have been persecuted and detained in secret internment camps in China.

The group is now calling for Airbnb, as well as the other 13 members of The Olympic Partner [TOP] Programme, to revoke their sponsorship of the Games. It has also reached out to CEO Brian Chesky to meet them virtually to move the matter forward, and is in the process of launching a global online campaign that will compare photos of accommodation listed on Airbnb and those purportedly in the detention camps.

Launching soon in countries such as the United States, the UK, Canada, France, Australia, Japan, Norway, Finland and the Netherlands, the campaign is designed to encourage sponsors to pay a commercial price if they continue their association with the Games that could potentially be donated to corporate social responsibility initiatives and projects.

The aim of the campaign – set to be launched in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Norway, Finland, France, The Netherlands, Japan and Australia – is intended to persuade the Beijing 2022 sponsors they may pay a commercial price if they are associated with the next edition of the Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

The letter by the End the Uighur Genocide Movement to Chesky read: “All over the world, campaigners, politicians and celebrities are waking up to the horror of what is going on. There is now a real risk that that Airbnb’s brand will be stained by your association with the Genocide Games.”

Airbnb was announced as an official Worldwide Olympic and Paralympic Partner in November 2019, in an estimated $500 million deal. The platform’s partnership with the International Olympic Committee [IOC] came as part of a long-term agreement, spanning nine years, which will last for at least the next two Summer Olympics [2024 in Paris and Los Angeles in 2028], two Winter Olympic Games [Beijing in 2022 and Milan-Cortina in 2026] and the next five editions of the Paralympics.

Under the terms of the agreement, Airbnb will take on board hundreds of thousands of new hosts who will provide short-term accommodation for guests staying in the host cities of the Games.

In addition, Airbnb has launched its own Olympian Experiences programme, through which travellers will be given the opportunity to train with elite athletes or explore cities with them.

The likes of Allianz, Coca Cola, Samsung, Panasonic, Visa International. Omega, Intel and Atos are also TOP sponsors, but Airbnb is believed to be the first to be targeted publicly by the campaign movement.

It comes after the International Ice Hockey Federation [IIHF] was recently forced to abandon its plans to hold the Men’s World Championship in Belarus after headline sponsors such as Skoda, Nivea Men and Liqui Moly pressurised the organisation to move the event from the country, following claims that the 2020 Presidential Election was allegedly rigged in incumbent Alexander Lukashenko’s favour, which triggered widespread protests across the nation.

China’s alleged persecution and detention of Uighur Muslims has sparked mounting criticism from politicians and human rights groups from around the world, with the IOC under increasing pressure to move the staging of the Games, which take place in two years’ time.