In a meeting Thursday with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Joe Biden said he is ‘considering’ boycotting the Beijing Olympics next year (Picture: AP)
The move has been encouraged by activists, who are calling the upcoming Olympics China’s ‘genocide games’. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have also been encouraging the Biden administration to boycott.
When asked about the possibility of a boycott during an Oval Office meting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday, Biden responded that it is ‘something we are considering.’
Under a diplomatic boycott, the US would not send an official government delegation to the games. American athletes will still be able to compete.
Governments typically send a high-ranking delegation of diplomats to opening ceremonies in a show of international support for the thousands of athletes from around the world who participate. The 2022 Winter Olympics are set for February 4 to 20.
China has been facing harsh criticism for cracking down on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, its policies towards Tibet and Taiwan and for detaining and abusing Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang, which the US State Department has classified as genocide.
President Biden reportedly did not address the possibility of a boycott during the three-and-a-half-hour video conference meeting he had Monday night with Chinese President Xi Jinping, a White House spokesperson said Tuesday.
The meeting was held with the expectation of reducing tensions between the two countries, which have grown over pandemic and trade policies, among other issues.
Activists urging the US to boycott the upcoming Winter Olympics have called it China’s ‘genocide games’ (Picture: Zuma Press)
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed during Thursday’s press briefing that the Biden Administration is considering a diplomatic boycott over concerns about human rights practices in Xinjiang province.
‘There are areas that we do have concerns: human rights abuses,’ Psaki said. ‘We have serious concerns.’
She added: ‘Certainly there are a range of factors as we look at what our presence would be,’ she said before declining to provide a timeline for a decision.
The International Olympic Committee has said that policing human rights records of host countries is out of its scope.
Activists and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle are encouraging the Biden Administration to boycott the upcoming Olympic Games over human rights concerns (Picture: SIPA USA)
In October, IOC president Thomas Bach said in a speech that the games should be ‘respected as politically neutral ground.’
But many lawmakers in Washington DC disagree. Those opposed to the US’ participation include Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton, who urged the administration to boycott the Olympics, and to bar athletes from competing.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also called for a diplomatic boycott, saying global leaders in attendance would lose their moral authority.
The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics are scheduled to begin on February 4. Only spectators from mainland China will be allowed to attend due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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