NBC’s Savannah Guthrie: China using Uyghur athlete in Olympic ceremony ‘an in-your-face response’ to West

NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie described China’s use of a Uyghur athlete in its opening ceremonies at the 2022 Winter Olympics as “an in your face response” to Western nations that have condemned the Chinese treatment of the Uyghurs as genocide. 

During NBC’s Friday coverage of the Beijing opening ceremonies, Guthrie called the moment a Uyghur athlete participated in the ceremony “provocative,” and described it as “a statement” from Chinese President Xi Jinping to choose an athlete from the minority group to participate.

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“This moment is quite provocative. It’s a statement from the Chinese President Xi Jinping to choose an athlete from the Uighur minority. It is an in your face response to those Western nations, including the U.S., who have called this Chinese treatment of that group genocide and diplomatically boycotted these games. There will be much discussion about this,” Guthrie said as the ceremony unfolded. 

NBC also covered China’s human rights abuses towards the Uyghurs during the broadcast.

The U.S. under former President Trump’s administration designated China’s treatment of the Uyghurs as an “act of genocide” last year. 

“We are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs by the Chinese party-state,” then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote in a statement at the time.

The following month, a legal opinion from a British court declared there was a “very credible case” that China was indeed carrying out a genocide. 

Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng lights the torch before the start of the torch relay for the 2022 Winter Olympics at the Olympic Forest Park in Beijing on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022. 

Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng lights the torch before the start of the torch relay for the 2022 Winter Olympics at the Olympic Forest Park in Beijing on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Sam McNeil)

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 A survivor of a reported “re-education,” camp who successfully escaped to the U.S., described the horrors befalling her fellow Uighurs in an interview with Fox News last year. 

“We need everyone to help, not just America,” Tursenay Ziawudun said. “We’re humans, but the way they torture these girls and even boys it’s like we’re animals.”

“First, they stripped off my clothing. Then they tore out my earrings, so my ears were bleeding — but I didn’t feel the pain. I felt worse for one elderly woman, like a grandmother. They stripped everything off her and she kept falling on the ground, and they kept pushing her and pulling her up and she just kept falling down. How could you do that to a mother?” she added. 

“Any woman under 40 was raped,” she said. “Every one in the camp experienced this. And of course I did, too. I was also beaten — I was kicked and stamped on — once so much on my private parts that I was bleeding, and I since had to have my ovaries removed.”

A perimeter fence is constructed around what is officially known as a vocational skills education centre in Dabancheng in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China September 4, 2018. Picture taken September 4, 2018. To match Special Report MUSLIMS-CAMPS/CHINA REUTERS/Thomas Peter

A perimeter fence is constructed around what is officially known as a vocational skills education centre in Dabancheng in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China September 4, 2018. Picture taken September 4, 2018. To match Special Report MUSLIMS-CAMPS/CHINA REUTERS/Thomas Peter
(Picture taken September 4, 2018. To match Special Report MUSLIMS-CAMPS/CHINA REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

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Fox News reached out to NBC for comment but had not received a response at the time of publishing. 

Fox News’ Benjamin Hall contributed to this report.

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