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Dec 7, 2021

Beijing Winter Olympics: US,NZ announce diplomatic boycott

Foreign Affairs News Desk
Mascots of the Beijing 2022 Olympics. DW Image
Mascots of the Beijing 2022 Olympics. DW Image

Could harm cooperation, says China

The U.S. diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics has “poisoned the atmosphere,” China said on Tuesday, warning the decision could harm cooperation between the countries.

On Monday, the United States announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

The 2022 XXIV Winter Olympics is to be held from February 4 to 20, 2022 in Beijing (plus Hebei of the People’s Republic of China.

According to the announcement, the US will not send officials to the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing next year citing China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang and elsewhere, the White House said on Monday.

The decision comes after Washington spent months wrangling with what position to take on the Games by a country it accuses of perpetrating “genocide” against Uyghur Muslims in the northwestern Xinjiang region.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks in the daily briefing at the White House on Dec. 6. Image AP

However, American athletes will not be affected and can still compete in the Games.

It is to remind here that the United States will host the 2028 Winter Games in Los Angeles, raising questions about whether China might give that cold shoulder in response.

Also, New Zealand will not be sending diplomatic representatives at a ministerial level to the Beijing Winter Olympics in February, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson says, citing COVID-19 as the reason.

The last full boycott of the Olympics by the US was in 1980, when President Jimmy Carter withdrew in protest against the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.

Four years later, the then USSR and its allies shunned the 1984 Games in Los Angeles in retaliation.

China had previously vowed to retaliate if the diplomatic snub went ahead. However, there was no immediate reaction from Beijing, but the Chinese foreign ministry earlier threatened “resolute countermeasures” to any such boycott.

The International Olympic Committee said the sending or not of officials was a “purely political decision for each government, which the IOC in its political neutrality fully respects.”

Earlier Chinese foreign ministry warned the Games were “not a stage for political posturing and manipulation.” “If the US is bent on having its own way, China will take resolute countermeasures,” the spokesman vowed.