According to RSF, this was happening while the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was voting in 2001 to give the 2008 Summer Olympics to Beijing:
Chinese police received an order to step up their executions of delinquents and intensify repression against 'subversive Internet users.' IOC members, encouraged by their president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, who personally supported China’s bid, paid no attention to the repeated calls against the Beijing bid.
Chinese authorities, satisfied by this decision, reinforced repression against Internet users, Tibetans, members of the Falungong spiritual movement, foreign scholars, the Muslim Uigur minority, democrats, foreign journalists and delinquents, all "in the name of the Chinese Olympics."The RSF page goes further:
In the early 1980s, a military-ruled Republic of Korea was granted the 1988 Olympics, and this spotlight is widely credited as pushing South Korea toward democratic elections in 1987. Perhaps this was what the IOC had in mind for Beijing, but the RSF in 2001 rejected this idea:
In concrete terms, 35 cyber-dissidents are in jail, and more than 8,000 Internet cafés have been closed; dozens of websites and forums were censored in July. In western China, authorities in Xinjiang province, where the country’s Muslim minority lives, sentenced four Uigurs accused of "separatism" to death...
Meanwhile, two German journalists, who were investigating a case of contaminated blood in Henan province, were arrested and accused of "working illegally." Finally, police and judicial authorities received orders to continue the "Strike Hard" campaign against delinquency. Between 3,000 and 4,000 Chinese have already been executed this year, either shot in the neck or by lethal injection, and this is often done in public, in stadiums.
The idea that granting China the Olympics would incite the Chinese authorities to improve human rights has been swept away by recent events. We can look forward to seven years of repression, especially against Tibetans and Uigurs, and all those considered to be "subversive elements". The IOC has, in fact, invested the Chinese regime with a task it will carry out zealously: host safe Olympics. This means arrests of dissidents, social "cleansing", and censorship against "critical" elements, especially journalists.So the decision to have a boycott is, according to RSF, the only choice:
Unfortunately, the reactions from democratic governments - "we hope the Olympics will lead to improvements in human rights" - have no effect on the Chinese regime. History has shown that totalitarian regimes are more sensitive to a balance of power than to "constructive dialogue." A boycott therefore seems the only strategy to force Chinese authorities to respect human rights before 2008.The RSF draws parallels with past mistakes by the IOC:
The Olympic movement was discredited in 1936, when it allowed the Nazis to make the Games a spectacle to glorify the Third Reich. In 1980, in Moscow, the IOC suffered a terrible defeat when more than 50 countries boycotted the Olympics. The Netherlands, Germany, the United States, Egypt and so many others refused to countenance the Soviet regime. In 2008, the international sporting movement must refuse to tolerate one of the world’s bloodiest dictatorships.I am sympathetic to this movement, but I think it will be more powerful if it comes from individual citizens, who can express their digust for Beijing's policies by stating, ahead of the Olympics, that they will refuse to watch the games and buy the products of Olympic sponsors for as long as they attach the Olympics to their products.