The United States of America have recently announced that they have taken the decision to boycott the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics and the International Olympic Committee has said it respects the US’s decision.
The news comes two weeks after the apparent disappearance of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai. The former world doubles number one player had not been heard from since she made allegations of sexual assault against China’s former vice-premier in a post on the social media platform, Weibo, two weeks ago.
Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr, the IOC’s coordination commission chief for the upcoming games, has said: “We always ask for as much respect as possible and least possible interference from the political world.
“We have to be reciprocal. We respect the political decisions taken by political bodies.”
The IOC’s approach to China has been called ‘quiet diplomacy’ or ‘silent diplomacy’ and has been criticised by human rights organisations. They alleged that the organisation was engaged in a ‘publicity’ stunt for Beiijing.
Why is the US boycotting the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022?
In a move that has been heavily criticised by the Chinese government, on Monday 6 December 2021, the Biden administration said there would be a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics due to what it called ‘ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses.”
The White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the boycott and said that the administration did not want to contribute to the ‘fanfare’ of the Olympics.
Psaki told the press: “US diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the People’s Republic of China’s egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang. We simply can’t do that.”
Psaki added that the US Government did not feel “it was the right step to penalise athletes who had been training for thai moment”, but that not sending an official US delegation to the 2022 Games “could send a clear message.”
There have been growing calls to boycott the Winter Olympics as China’s relationship with many western capitals continues to deteriorate due to Beijing’s treatment of its Uyghur population and the disappearance of Peng Shuai.
While the diplomats will not be attending, the Biden administration would not prohibit their athletes from attending and competing in the events.
The last time the US staged a full boycott of the Olympics was during the cold war in 1980 when the former president Jimmy Carter refused to attend the Moscow games along with 64 other countries and territories after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.
What has China said?
As a result of the US decision, China has since accused the Biden administration of ‘political posturing and manipulation” and tried to discredit the ruling by suggesting that American diplomats had not even been invited to Beijing in the first place.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said “The US should stop politicising sports, and stop disrupting and undermining the Beijing Winter Olympics, lest it should affect bilateral dialogue and cooperation in important areas and regional issues.”
Which other countries will boycott the Beijing winter Olympics?
The complete aftermath of the US decision not to attend the Beijing Winter Olympics is yet to be seen.
New Zealand claimed it had decided months ago that they would not be sending any diplomats and most recently, Australia announced that they too would not be sending a representative.
Other political leaders are expected to also announce that they will not be attending the games, which begin in February, whether they give an explicit reason or not.
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