U.S. government officials will boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing because of China’s human rights “atrocities”, the White House said on Monday, just weeks after talks aimed at easing tense relations between the two superpowers.The diplomatic boycott, which leaves athletes free to travel to Beijing to compete, has been encouraged by some members of Congress and rights advocacy groups for months.

Beijing threatened unspecified “resolute countermeasures” against any such move before Monday’s announcement, which is certain to further strain relations already at their lowest point in decades.

President Joe Biden’s administration highlighted what Washington says is genocide against minority Muslims in China’s western region of Xinjiang. China denies all rights abuses.

“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,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told a daily press briefing, referring to the People’s Republic of China.

“The athletes on Team USA have our full support,” Psaki added. “We will be behind them 100% as we cheer them on from home.”

The move comes despite an effort to stabilize ties with a video meeting last month between Biden and China’s leader Xi Jinping.

China’s embassy in Washington called the boycott “political manipulation” that would have no impact on the Games as no invitations had been extended to U.S. politicians.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is the only leader of a major country who has accepted an invitation.

The Chinese Mission to the United Nations said the move “reflects the Cold War mentality of the United States.”


“The U.S. just wants to politicize sports, create divisions and provoke confrontation,” a statement from the mission said. “This approach will find no support and is doomed to fail.”

It was unclear if others would join the United States, although U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had said allies were consulted on a “shared approach”. read more

Canada’s foreign ministry said it “remains deeply disturbed by the troubling reports of human rights violations in China” and is continuing to discuss the matter “with our partners and allies.”

The Australian and Japanese governments said they were also still considering their positions for the Games, which begin on Feb. 4.

“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,” Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters. Read More

By Ian Dei

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