Biden administration considers ‘co-ordinated’ Beijing Olympics boycott

Washington: The Biden administration is considering a joint boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing in response to China’s “egregious” human rights violations, according to the US State Department.

Department spokesman Ned Price made clear that the US would expect to be joined by its allies if it were to boycott the games, which are scheduled to be held next February.

“It is something that we certainly wish to discuss,” Price told reporters on Wednesday (AEDT) when asked about a possible boycott.

Australia’s Lee Troop leads his group past the Forbidden City and Mao’s portrait at the 11-km mark of the Beijing Summer Olympics 2008 marathon. Troop finished 60th. Credit:John Donegan

“A co-ordinated approach will not only be in our interest but also in the interest of our allies and partners […] These discussions are underway.”

Price said the State Department was currently conducting a review of US participation in the games.

It is unclear what form a possible boycott of the games would take.

Price said China had committed “egregious” human rights violations in recent years, including the “genocide” of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province.

An industrial Park in Artux in western China’s Xinjiang region, where Western nations say human rights abuses are occurring against Uighur Muslims. Credit:AP

The US has only previously boycotted one modern Olympics: the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow in response to the Soviet Union’s military involvement in Afghanistan.

The US Olympic Committee has made clear it does not support a full boycott of the Beijing games.

“While we would never want to minimise what is happening from a human rights perspective in China, we do not support an athlete boycott,” US Olympic Committee President Susanne Lyons said last month.

“We believe such boycotts have not been effective in the past, particularly in 1980.

“Those boycotts only hurt athletes who have trained their entire lives for this opportunity to represent their country.”

A coalition of 180 human rights groups also called for an athlete boycott of the games, a position backed by several high-profile members of the US Congress.

Republican Senator Mitt Romney has proposed allowing American athletes to participate in Beijing, while staging an “economic and diplomatic” boycott of the games.

“American spectators – other than families of our athletes and coaches – should stay at home, preventing us from contributing to the enormous revenues the Chinese Communist Party will raise from hotels, meals and tickets,” Romney wrote in The New York Times.

“American corporations that routinely send large groups of their customers and associates to the Games should send them to US venues instead.”

Republican Senator Mitt Romney has proposed an economic and diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics. Credit:AP

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in March that any boycott effort was “doomed to failure”.

“China firmly rejects the politicisation of sports and opposes using human rights issues to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs,” Zhao said.

The Australian Olympic Committee has previously strongly rejected the idea of a Beijing boycott, saying that “neutrality on global political issues” was a critical feature of the Olympic movement.

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