A small but influential group of Western nations has announced diplomatic boycotts of the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics, citing its record of human rights abuses.
The boycott allows the nations to send athletic delegations to the Games while refusing to send any high-ranking officials or dignitaries as an official delegation.
The nations involved in the diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games include:
United States: White House spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters Monday that the U.S. “will not be contributing to the fanfare of the Games, but said the nation will be behind the members of Team USA “100% as we cheer them on from home.”
Australia: Relations between Canberra and Beijing have deteriorated in recent years over several issues, especially Australia’s push for an independent probe into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was first detected in late 2019 in central China. China has retaliated by imposing heavy tariffs on Australian commodities.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Wednesday “there has been no obstacle” on Australia’s side to hold talks with China to resolve the issues, but said his country “will not step back from the strong position we’ve had standing up for Australia’s interests.”
Britain: Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement Wednesday during a session in Parliament, adding that athletes would still participate as he did not believe “sporting boycotts are sensible.”
Canada: “We are extremely concerned about the repeated human rights violations by the Chinese government,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday in announcing his country’s diplomatic boycott.
Lithuania: Education, Science and Sport Minister Jurgita Šiugždinienė said in a press release last Thursday — days before the United States officially announced its diplomatic boycott — that she and other senior ministry officials will not travel to the Beijing Games. Relations between Vilnius and Beijing have worsened since Taiwan opened an unofficial embassy in the Lithuanian capital last month.
Human rights groups have called on nations to fully boycott the Beijing Winter Games over China’s human rights abuses, including the detention of millions of Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang province and the crackdown on pro-democracy forces in Hong Kong.
Beijing has denounced the boycotts as “posturing” and has vowed to retaliate with unspecified “countermeasures” against the United States over its decision to stage a diplomatic boycott of the Games, which run Feb. 4-20.
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press and Reuters.