Breaking News
Investing Pro 0
NEW! Get Actionable Insights with InvestingPro+ Try 7 Days Free

U.S. officials to boycott Beijing Olympics over rights 'atrocities'

World Dec 07, 2021 01:22AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Beijing 2022 logo is seen outside the headquarters of the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Shougang Park, November 10, 2021. REUTERS/Thomas Peter 2/2

By Steve Holland, Humeyra Pamuk, Michael Martina and Gabriel Crossley

WASHINGTON/BEIJING (Reuters) -U.S. government officials will boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing because of China's human rights "atrocities", the White House said on Monday, just weeks after talks aimed at easing tense relations between the two superpowers.

The diplomatic boycott, which leaves athletes free to travel to Beijing to compete, has been encouraged by some members of Congress and rights advocacy groups for months.

Beijing threatened unspecified "resolute countermeasures" against any such move before Monday's announcement, which is certain to further strain relations already at their lowest point in decades.

President Joe Biden's administration highlighted what Washington says is genocide against minority Muslims in China's western region of Xinjiang. China denies all rights abuses.

"U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the PRC's egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang, and we simply can't do that," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told a daily press briefing, referring to the People's Republic of China.

"The athletes on Team USA have our full support," Psaki added. "We will be behind them 100% as we cheer them on from home."

The move comes despite an effort to stabilize ties with a video meeting last month between Biden and China's leader Xi Jinping.

China's embassy in Washington called the boycott "political manipulation" that would have no impact on the Games as no invitations had been extended to U.S. politicians.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is the only leader of a major country who has accepted an invitation.

The Chinese Mission to the United Nations said the move "reflects the Cold War mentality of the United States."

"The U.S. just wants to politicize sports, create divisions and provoke confrontation," a statement from the mission said. "This approach will find no support and is doomed to fail."

It was unclear if others would join the United States, although U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had said allies were consulted on a "shared approach".

Canada's foreign ministry said it "remains deeply disturbed by the troubling reports of human rights violations in China" and is continuing to discuss the matter "with our partners and allies."

The Australian and Japanese governments said they were also still considering their positions for the Games, which begin on Feb. 4.

"We will consider matters such as the meaning of the Olympic Games and our diplomatic relations, and would like to make our own decision based on what is best for our national interest," Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.

New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said his country would not send government officials but that decision was based largely on COVID-19 concerns and preceded the U.S. boycott.

"We've made clear to China on numerous occasions our concerns about human rights issues," Robertson told reporters, according to state broadcaster TVNZ.

Stefano Sannino, chief of the European Union's diplomatic service, said last week that boycotts were a matter for individual member states, not common EU foreign policy.

Human rights groups welcomed the move, but said Washington could do more to hold China accountable.

However, some political analysts said the boycott was less a threat to the Games and more of an optics problem that Beijing fueled by threatening retaliation.

"It would have been a non-story if let alone," said Lisa Delpy Neirotti, an associate professor of sport management at the George Washington University School of Business. "We typically do not send a large government delegation anyway, especially in COVID times."

George W. Bush was the last U.S. president to attend a Games opening ceremony, as host at Salt Lake City in 2004. Vice President Mike Pence attended the 2018 winter Games in Pyeongchang.

The diplomatic boycott puts corporate Olympic sponsors in "an awkward spot" but was less concerning than a full measure barring athletes, said Neal Pilson, a former president of CBS Sports who has overseen Olympics broadcast rights deals.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters the government would not dictate private sector practices, but said firms should be "fully cognizant" of what is transpiring in Xinjiang.

A spokesperson from Comcast-owned NBCUniversal said it would broadcast the Games as planned.


Scott Kennedy, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said Beijing's options to retaliate included limiting bilateral dialogue, stalling visas, or hamstringing athletic delegations and journalists at the Games.

The United States is due to host the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), which has faced criticism for turning a blind eye to China's right record, said the Games should be "beyond politics".

Sarah Hirshland, chief executive of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, said Team USA was "excited and ready to make the nation proud."

Many U.S. athletes argued it would have been unfair to ban them from the Games, and some U.S. lawmakers who supported not sending officials had said it was in U.S. interests for its national anthem to be playing in Beijing as Americans received medals.

Four-time Olympian Angela Ruggiero greeted the announcement with relief: "You know, you work all your life to compete and you never want politics to get in the way of that chance."

U.S. officials to boycott Beijing Olympics over rights 'atrocities'

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Comments (1)
Fong SH
Fong SH Dec 06, 2021 11:34PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
Western countries are so naive, diplomatic issues can also influence social friendly events. Athletes train hard for their glory days & interests in sports can also be influence by political moves. what a joke. Such a big country with a small heart. Really shameful. How can a government deprive an individual interests and the glory for their country.
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email