United States announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics

Asia's Tech News Daily

White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced on Monday that the Biden administration “will not send any diplomatic or official representation” to the upcoming Beijing Olympics.

Psaki, in confirming the long-expected diplomatic boycott, cited the Chinese government's “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang,” as well as other human rights abuses.

President Biden said last month, days after he virtually met with China’s leader Xi Jinping, that the United States was considering such a boycott. The Olympics didn’t come up in that meeting, but Biden did discuss human rights abuses in the country.

Among other things, China is accused of committing crimes against humanity against the Uyghur population in Xinjiang. The Biden administration and former President Donald Trump's administration referred to China's treatment of Uyghurs — which includes allegations of forced mass sterilization, forced labor and separating families — as “genocide.”

There have been growing calls throughout the United States and across the world to boycott the games for numerous reasons. Several activists held a demonstration at the Acropolis monument in Athens, in October during the traditional torch-lighting ceremony.

China has been in the middle of several controversies throughout the sports world in recent years, too. Former Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for Hong Kong in 2019, which sparked a massive controversy, and Enes Kanter Freedom has been calling out issues in China while playing with the Boston Celtics this season.

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai went missing earlier this year, too, after she alleged that a high-ranking Chinese politician had coerced her into sex. The International Olympic Committee has drawn harsh criticism for its handling of Shuai’s disappearance, and the Women’s Tennis Association suspended all tournaments in China.

The United States will announce a doplomatic boycott of the 2022 Olympics in Beijing. (Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images)

What is a diplomatic boycott, and how would it impact athletes?

The diplomatic boycott won’t impact any United States athletes at the upcoming Winter Games in Beijing. All athletes who make the trip will still be allowed to compete.

Instead, Biden’s order would keep any American government officials or dignitaries from attending the Games. First Lady Jill Biden led the United States delegation to the Tokyo Olympics last summer, for example. Such a delegation in Beijing will now not exist.

The United States hasn’t boycotted an Olympics since the 1980 Games in Moscow. That was a full boycott, meaning the United States completely skipped the Olympics. Such a boycott is not expected this time, per the report.

The Olympics are set to start Feb. 4.

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