The Biden Administration announces that top government officials will not attend the Winter Games as a message against human rights violations perpetrated by China.
U.S. government officials will not attend the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing as the U.S. government officially boycotts the event, claiming China’s human rights violations as reason for the decision.
This has been President Biden’s most explicit demonstration of dissatisfaction with the Chinese government, with the Biden administration outwardly claiming China has conducted “outgoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.”
“US diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the PRC’s egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang, and we simply can’t do that,” stated White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, at a White House briefing on Monday. Despite the absence of White House officials from the games, American athletes will still receive the administration’s “full support.”
According to the New York Times, both Republican and Democratic Congress members had been urging for a boycott for months in light of China’s abuses of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region and forcible suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong. Support for the boycott increased after the public disappearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, who disappeared from the public eye shortly after she accused a top Chinese Communist Party leader of sexual assault.
The announcement came only a month after Biden and CCP leader, Xi Jinping, held a virtual summit with the focus of easing tension between their two countries. After a three-and-a-half hour conversation between the two leaders, little progress was made.
China has responded to the boycott of the Olympics, with the Chinese embassy in Washington calling the boycott “political manipulation” as the absence of Washington officials “would have no impact on the Games as no invitations had been extended to U.S. politicians,” as reported by Reuters.
Reuters also reported that Beijing threatened “resolute countermeasures” while the Chinese Mission to the United Nations claims that “the U.S. just wants to politicize sports, create divisions and provoke confrontation…This approach will find no support and is doomed to fail.”
However, despite the claims made by the Chinese Mission to the UN, several allies of the United States have joined their decision to diplomatically boycott the Olympics, also citing the human rights abuses in Xinjiang as reason for their participation in the boycott.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada announced that Canada would be joining the United States in the diplomatic boycott of the Olympic games, saying that the boycott is “a continuation of us continuing to express our deep concerns about human rights violations,” as quoted by the New York Times.
The United Kingdom also announced their participation in the boycott, echoing the same reasons as the U.S. However, during Parliament’s announcement to boycott, Prime Minister Boris Johnson also added that he didn’t think supporting boycotts was “sensible.”
New Zealand will also not be sending any government officials to Beijing, but have instead claimed that sending officials would be too dangerous amidst the pandemic. Although New Zealand has also voiced their concerns over human rights violations in China, they have not officially announced their participation in the boycott. Other countries such as Japan and Germany are still undecided on whether or not to join the boycott.
Of the major countries invited to attend the Olympics, Vladimir Putin of Russia reportedly has accepted an invitation to the Games.
France and Italy have also weighed in, stating that they would not participate in the boycott. France specifically stated that they believe a boycott would only politically interfere with the sports.
While the decision to either ignore or join the boycott is surrounded by global controversy, the anticipation to see who will match the United States’ sentiment in boycotting the Olympics is slowly but surely rising.