U.S. government officials will reportedly not be joining Team USA athletes at the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics due to alleged human rights “atrocities” committed by the Chinese government.
A statement against abuse: On Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki cited Beijing’s alleged genocide against the Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang region as the main reason for the boycott, reported Reuters.
- “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,” she said.
- Psaki, however, expressed support for the American athletes participating in the global sporting event that starts on Feb. 4. next year, noting that the White House will be “behind them 100% as we cheer them on from home.”
- The announcement came just three weeks after a virtual meeting between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping hinted at attempts to improve U.S.-China relations.
Considering “national interest”: Countries such as Australia and Japan have expressed that their positions remain open for similar consideration, while Canada said it is conferring about the situation with its allies.
- “We will consider matters such as the meaning of the Olympic Games and our diplomatic relations, and would like to make our own decision based on what is best for our national interest,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was quoted as saying.
- Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has committed to sticking with a neutral position, noting that the Games should be “beyond politics.”
- In a statement, the IOC wrote that “the presence of government officials and diplomats is a purely political decision for each government, which the IOC in its political neutrality fully respects.”
Countermeasure warning: After the announcement of the potential boycott, the Chinese government issued a warning of unspecified “resolute countermeasures.”
- China’s embassy in Washington, D.C. also accused the Biden administration of “political manipulation,” noting that Beijing has yet to send an invitation to U.S. officials.
- At a press conference on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian warned, “The United States will pay a price for its wrong actions. Let’s wait and see.”
- Meanwhile, the state-run Global Times shrugged off the boycott, writing on Twitter: “To be honest, Chinese are relieved to hear the news, because the fewer U.S. officials come, the fewer viruses will be brought in.”