Bach on Uyghurs: No Olympics if we 'did politics'

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The Winter Olympics begins in Beijing on Friday, and the hosts have faced criticism of their human rights record in the build up to the games.

When asked what his message would be to the country's Uyghur Muslims, who claim they suffer widespread oppression, Bach said it was important for the IOC to remain neutral.

"The position of the IOC must be given the political neutrality that we are not commenting on political issues," he said.

"Because otherwise, you know, if we are taking a political standpoint, and we are getting in the middle of tensions and dispute and confrontations of political powers, then we are putting the games at risk. If at the end you would have Olympic Games only between National Olympic Committees whose governments agree on every political situation. The games would lose their universality, and with a universality, they would lose their mission and that would lead to the end of the Olympic Games."

Bach added that athletes would be free to express political opinions at the Olympics as long as they follow IOC guidelines.