Biden ‘considering’ diplomatic boycott of China Olympics

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


U.S. Olympians competing in the 2022 Beijing Winter Games might have dramatically reduced group of dignitaries in their travel party. 

On Thursday, NBC News’ Peter Alexander tweeted that President Joe Biden said it was possible the United States will institute a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing games over allegations of Chinese human rights violations against their Uyghur population.  

Alexander tweeted Biden said a diplomatic boycott was, “Something we’re considering.” 

This is a slight adjustment from Tuesday, when Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin wrote on Tuesday that a diplomatic boycott was being planned. 

In her Thursday press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed a diplomatic boycott was being considered, but said there was no timeline for a decision.

Under a diplomatic boycott, the nation’s athletes would still compete, but U.S. government officials would not attend. 

Such a plan would be in contrast to the boycott of the Soviet games then-President Jimmy Carter ordered in 1980, when the United States sent no team. Fourteen Soviet-bloc nations responded in 1984 by boycotting the Los Angeles Summer Olympics. 

If the diplomatic boycott happens, it will mark the latest in a long series of measures taken by nations, non-profits, educational centers, human rights groups, and others to hold to account the Chinese government for widespread reports of inhumane treatment of the Uyghur ethnic minority group

Last week, Human Rights Watch called upon all major sponsors of the 2022 Olympics to leverage their considerable wealth to force China to address its human rights allegations. 

“There are just three months until the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, but corporate sponsors remain silent over how they are using their influence to address China’s appalling human rights record,” Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, said in a release. “They are squandering the opportunity to show their commitment to human rights standards and risk instead being associated with an Olympics tainted by censorship and repression.”

In a Monday release, Richardson urged President Biden to be more forceful with China in his dealings with Xi.

“If the Biden administration isn’t ready to do more than merely ‘raise’ human rights issues with President Xi, it won’t just have needlessly given away opportunities for change,” Richardson wrote. “It will also have profoundly disappointed all those suffering Chinese government abuses and emboldened their abusers.”

According to a White House release, the matter of the Olympics or a boycott did not arise during President Biden’s Tuesday meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. 

As of this writing, the Chinese government had not responded to the rumor of an American diplomatic boycott, although last week Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin criticized Human Rights Watch  for “politicizing sports and fabricating rumors”.

In addition to its treatment of Uyghurs, China has also drawn immense criticism, particularly from pro tennis stars like Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, and Novak Djokovic, over the recent disappearance of three-time Olympic tennis player Peng Shuai. 

Earlier this month, Peng accused a ranking member of the Chinese communist party of having forced her into a relationship and sexually assaulting her. Peng has not been seen since, although the Chinese media provided an at-best mercurial email alleged to have been written by Peng. 

Peng’s disappearance has led the World Tennis Association to openly criticize China. 

Late Thursday, WTA President Steve Simon told CNN that his organization was willing to cease operations in China, a move that would cost the WTA hundreds of millions of dollars, if the tennis star’s safety was not ensured and her allegations fully investigated.