There has also been mounting concern over the situation in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang, where more than one million ethnic Uighurs and other minorities have been herded into internment camps to undergo political indoctrination, according to rights groups and experts.
China insists the camps are training centers aimed at providing education to reduce the allure of Islamic radicalism.
At the end of July, an overseas-based Uighur group urged the IOC to reconsider holding the 2022 games in China, accusing the government of “genocide” of the Uighur population.
Tuesday’s letter to the IOC said there had been a “gross increase on the assault on communities living under its rule” after the 2008 Summer Olympic Games were awarded to Beijing.
“The IOC must recognize that the Olympic spirit and the reputation of the Olympic Games will suffer further damage if the worsening human rights crisis, across all areas under China’s control, is simply ignored,” the letter said.
In response, the IOC stressed its political neutrality.
“Awarding the Olympic Games to a National Olympic Committee does not mean that the IOC agrees with the political structure, social circumstances or human rights standards in its country,” it said in a statement.
UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet has repeatedly called for Beijing to grant her office “unfettered access” to Xinjiang to investigate alleged abuses.