In protest of China’s human rights abuses, the United States, Australia, Canada, Britain, and Lithuania will not send diplomats to the February 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
“U.S. 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,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday.
“We have a fundamental commitment to promoting human rights. And we feel strongly in our position and we will continue to take actions to advance human rights in China and beyond,” Psaki added.
She continued: “The athletes on team USA have our full support. We will be behind them 100 percent as we cheer them on from home. We will not be contributing to the fanfare of the games.”
“We feel this sends a clear message,” Psaki said and explained that a complete boycott would not be fair to American athletes “who have been training, preparing for this moment.”
U.S. politicians, including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ), have been pressing Biden to withhold diplomatics from the Games.
In August, Human Rights Watch released a report detailing widespread repression against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang. “The Chinese leadership is responsible for widespread and systematic policies of mass detention, torture, and cultural persecution, among other offenses,” HRW explained.
“The calls for the boycott have only intensified after the disappearance from public life of tennis star Peng Shuai, who accused a top Communist Party leader of sexual assault,” reports The New York Times.
The Times adds:
The threat of a diplomatic rebuff has appeared to unnerve Beijing. The word “boycott” appeared to have been banned in online searches after the United States made its announcement. And reports in Chinese state news media were critical of what some said was the politicization of a sporting event in a way that contravened the Olympic spirit.
“Out of ideological bias and based on lies and rumors, the US is trying to disrupt the Beijing Winter Olympics. This will only expose its sinister intention and further erode its moral authority and credibility,” a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry said at a news conference Tuesday.