2022 Olympics in Beijing: The United States announces its diplomatic boycott of the Winter Games

The Winter Olympics are held in February. Photo: dpa / Mark Schiefelbein

The US government wants to send athletes to China for the Winter Olympics, but not diplomatic representatives. Beijing is reacting angrily even before the official announcement. Will other countries follow suit?

WASHINGTON/BEIJING – The United States has announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing in protest of human rights abuses in China. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday in Washington that the administration of President Joe Biden will not send any diplomatic or official representatives to the Olympics in China. The background is the “genocide” in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region and other human rights violations. American athletes must participate in the Games.

Psaki said the US government will encourage American athletes back home. When asked why the United States did not opt ​​for a complete boycott of the Games, Psaki said she did not want to penalize athletes who trained extensively for the Games. The government sees the move as also sending a “clear message”. She stressed that the US government informed international partners of the decision and left them to make their own decisions.

The Winter Olympics will be held in China from February 4-20, 2022. Several sides have accused the authoritarian state of committing human rights abuses, particularly against minorities such as Uyghur Muslims. Human rights groups cite Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong as examples of Chinese retaliation. So there are frequent calls to boycott the Winter Games there.

High tensions between the United States and China

In its first reaction, the IOC described the government officials’ presence as “a purely political decision, which the IOC fully respects in its political neutrality”. A spokesman for the International Olympic Committee said, referring to the United Nations resolution, which was adopted unanimously for all 193 members states.

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This resolution includes compliance with the Olympic Truce for the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Games and calls on all member states to work with the IOC and the International Paralympic Committee in their efforts to use sport as a tool to promote peace, dialogue and reconciliation in the regions. Conflict during and after the Olympic Games and its use.

There is significant political tension between the United States and China over the human rights situation, and also because of many other controversial issues. Relations between the two countries have fallen to their lowest level since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1979. Biden sees China as the strongest competitor and greatest geopolitical challenge to the United States.

China sees ‘mockery of Olympic spirit’

Biden had already said in mid-November that he was considering a diplomatic boycott of the Olympic Games in China. After US media reported that the US government was about to announce the decision, Beijing reacted with fury and threatened “decisive countermeasures” – even before the official announcement came from Washington.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian lashed out on Monday before US politicians received a call to “amplify the boycott issue.” “It is a mockery of the Olympic spirit, a political provocation, and an attack on 1.4 billion Chinese,” Zhao Lijian said in Beijing. The Chinese people and the world see the hypocrisy and anti-Chinese nature of American politicians more clearly.

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