The United States has announced a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing over China’s “egregious” rights abuses, a move the Chinese government has said would be met with “resolute countermeasures”.
The White House on Monday said the US would not send an official delegation to the games in protest against Chinese human rights abuses, including Beijing’s treatment of Muslim Uighurs in its western Xinjiang region.
“The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games given the [People’s Republic of China’s] ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, and other human rights abuses,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
“US diplomatic or official representation would treat these Games as business as usual … and we simply can’t do that,” she said.
The Chinese embassy in Washington described the US boycott as “political manipulation”.
“No invitation has been extended to US politicians whatsoever, so this ‘diplomatic boycott’ simply comes out of nowhere,” embassy spokesperson Liu Pengyu told the Reuters news agency in an emailed statement.
“Such a pretentious act is only a political manipulation and a grave distortion of the spirit of the Olympic Charter,” he said.
On Tuesday, the UK said it would consider whether to impose its own boycott at a later date.
“I was asked whether I will go. I will not go and we’ll consider that (the level of wider representation) in due course,” said Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab.
Psaki said the US boycott, which has been encouraged by some Congress members for months, would not affect the attendance of American athletes, who have the “full support” of the Biden administration.
The move comes before US President Joe Biden’s “Summit for Democracy” on Thursday and Friday, a virtual gathering of leaders and civil society actors from more than 100 countries.
Biden will use the gathering “to announce both individual and collective commitments, reforms, and initiatives to defend democracy and human rights at home and abroad”, US officials have said.