US Confirms Diplomatic Boycott of Beijing Games

White House cites 'ongoing genocide' in Xinjiang
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2021 1:47 PM CST
US Confirms Diplomatic Boycott of Beijing Games
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily briefing at the White House, Monday, Dec. 6, 2021.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(Newser) – The US government will protest China's human rights abuses with a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics, meaning American athletes will go to Beijing but President Biden and other officials will stay away, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Monday. The Biden administration will not be sending any representatives to Beijing "given the PRC’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses," Psaki said, per NBC. The administration has also expressed concerns about the harsh crackdown on Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement and China's aggressive behavior toward Taiwan. Psaki said the administration's fundamental commitment to promoting human rights" made it impossible to treat the Games as "business as usual."

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"The athletes on team USA have our full support," Psaki added. "We will be behind them 100% as we cheer them on from home. We will not be contributing to the fanfare of the games." The Washington Post describes the diplomatic boycott as a "largely symbolic" move that is unlikely to affect the competition—though it has clearly angered officials in Beijing. Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian described the boycott Monday as "a grave travesty of the spirit of the Olympic Charter, a blatant political provocation, and a serious affront to the 1.4 billion Chinese people." The Games are scheduled to start on Feb. 4.

China has promised "firm countermeasures," though it's not clear what they might be, apart from a possible Chinese boycott of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez called the move "a necessary step to demonstrate our unwavering commitment to human rights in the face of the Chinese government’s unconscionable abuses," the AP reports. The Democrat urged "other allies and partners that share our values to join with the United States in this diplomatic boycott.” (Read more 2022 Beijing Olympics stories.)

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