The United States will diplomatically boycott the Winter Olympics in the Chinese capital, Beijing, in February over human rights concerns. The White House has officially confirmed this. Diplomatic boycott means Washington will not send government representatives to the Chinese capital. Through this activity American leading athletes will be able to participate in tournaments.
The White House has officially announced a diplomatic boycott, following CNN’s earlier reports of a diplomatic boycott. U.S. participants in the February event will receive the full support of President Joe Biden’s administration.
The United States wants to send a clear message that China’s position is not acceptable. They accuse China of committing genocide against Uyghur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang province. According to human rights groups, China has imprisoned at least one million Uyghurs in “re-education camps”.
Human rights watchdog Human Rights Watch says China is facing a “critical step” in dealing with “crimes against humanity.”
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), as the organizer of the Games, said it appreciates the US decision. “The presence of officials and diplomats is a purely political decision for any government. The IOC fully respects its political neutrality.”
China has already warned of countermeasures if the boycott is implemented. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian called the US boycott “severe.”
“If the United States wants to do business its way at any cost, China will take counter-measures,” the spokesman warned. “The Winter Olympics are not an opportunity to take and manipulate a political position.”
“Olympics beyond politics”
In response to the diplomatic boycott, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) says it “values” the US decision.
“The presence of government officials and diplomats is a purely political decision of any government, which fully respects the IOC in its political neutrality,” a spokesman said. “At the same time, the announcement clearly demonstrates that the participation of the Olympics and athletes is beyond politics.”
Governments usually send a large delegation of high-ranking ambassadors to the opening ceremony of the Olympics. However, due to the corona, there will be much less in the upcoming winter games. The Chinese state-run newspaper The Global Times said last week that the Chinese government in Beijing had no plans to invite American politicians. So neglect is largely symbolic.
The US Olympic Committee has also stated its opposition to the boycott. In the past, the 1980 Moscow Games were boycotted by the United States and about 60 countries. Four years later, at the Los Angeles Games, this time it was the Soviet Union and its allies. The Olympic Committee considers it “wrong” to use sports as “political influence”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced that he will travel to China for the Winter Games in February.
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