White House announces diplomatic boycott of Winter Olympics: report


The Biden government is expected to announce a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February, according to a new report.

The move, first reported by CNN late Sunday, means no US officials would attend events like the opening or closing ceremonies – but American athletes would still be allowed to compete.

President Biden admitted last month that he was “considering” a diplomatic boycott of the Games but gave no indication of when he would make a final decision.

China’s government responded on Monday by threatening “strong countermeasures” if the Biden government carries out the boycott, noting that no US official had been officially invited to attend the Games.

“Without being invited, American politicians are repeatedly called the diplomatic boycott of the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, which is pure wishful thinking and deference,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijan told reporters.

“If the US side wants to go its own way, China will take resolute countermeasures,” added Zhao, without going into what those measures might be.

China’s government threatened “tough countermeasures” if the Biden government pulls off the boycott.
Jim Lo Scalzo / Epa-Efe / Shutterstock

During the Olympics, it is customary for the US and other countries to send prominent government officials as a show of support for the athletes and as a diplomatic gesture to the host country. Earlier this year, First Lady Jill Biden took part in the rescheduled Summer Olympics 2020 in Tokyo, while Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff appeared at the Paralympic Games.

Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping didn’t talk about the Olympics when the two met for a virtual summit last month, according to the White House.

Republican lawmakers and human rights activists have called for a full boycott of the Olympic Games in response to China’s human rights violations – particularly the genocide of Uighur Muslims in northwestern Xinjiang Province.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian noted that no US official had been officially invited to the games.
Andy Wong / AP

There is no evidence that such a move was seriously considered by the White House.

House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-California) called for a diplomatic boycott in May, saying, “We cannot pretend there is nothing wrong with the Olympics going to China.”

“The past three decades have made it clear that we cannot continue to write a blank check to Beijing in the hope that their behavior will simply change,” she said at the time.

A visitor to Shougang Park walks past a sculpture for the Beijing Winter Olympics.
House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi called for a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics in May.
Ng Han Guan / AP

In 1980, in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter ordered a full US boycott of the Summer Olympics in Moscow. A total of 65 countries refused to participate in the Moscow Games. The Soviet Union responded by leading its own boycott four years later when the Los Angeles Olympics were taking place.

The 2022 Winter Olympics will take place from February 4th to 20th. It is the second time Beijing has hosted the Olympics after hosting the 2008 Summer Games.

With postal wires

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