As China’s increasingly blatant human rights violations are being exposed by the wider media, President Biden has stated on Thursday that the United States is considering a diplomatic boycott at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
This would mean that US sanctioned government officials would be absent from the Games — slated to begin in February — though the measure doesn’t prevent any American athletes from competing.
US Mulls Olympics Pull Out In China
This following a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau at the White House where Mr Biden responded to the question of a potential diplomatic boycott at the next edition of the Winter Olympics by saying it was “under consideration”.
The comment was also made days after a virtual meeting between Mr Biden with China’s leader, Xi Jinping. The meeting was intended to stop increasing tensions from becoming a wider conflict. According to a White House statement, while Mr Xi warned that the administration should not support Taiwan, Mr Biden expressed concern about the abuses of human rights in the Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong regions.
In particular, abuses on the Uyghur Community and a crackdown in Hong Kong have prompted calls by about 180 human rights groups and members of Congress for the Olympics to be used as an opportunity to hold China responsible for its violations. While some view a diplomatic boycott as an effective way to communicate a message and also not punish the U.S. athletes for their actions, others question the efficacy of withholding a delegation from the government when the focus is on the Olympic competition’s athletes in the first place.
The sentiment is very much echoed by many in the US Congress and political scene. California’s Speaker, Nancy Pelosi was one of the first to call on the President to forbid a U.S. delegation to attend, even though she believes that the athletes should still be allowed to compete. Similarly, Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas called for a boycott of all Beijing Games.
Last week, Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State, told The New York Times that the United States was talking to its allies about participating in the forthcoming edition of the Olympics 2021. He has said that “it’s an ongoing conversation,” whereas Canada and Europe have been under similar pressure to boycott the Games.
Elsewhere, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee have said that it would approve any boycott on the condition that the American athletes are allowed to participate in the Games.
Following the virtual meeting, Jen Psaki, a White House press secretary, stated that Mr Biden and Mr Xi did not discuss the issue of the Beijing Olympics at Monday’s meeting. However, she did acknowledge that there was a concern from the US government for the human rights violations committed by China.
The United States has never fully boycotted any of the Olympic games since 1980 when then-President Jimmy Carter protested the Soviet Union’s presence in Afghanistan. This move has been widely condemned as a failure to produce tangible results, but it did provide Russia with plenty of talking points.
Whether this latest potential boycott will produce positive results remains to be seen, however, only time will tell.