The U.S. government confirmed Monday the “diplomatic boycott” of the Beijing Winter Olympics.
U.S. President Joe Biden has previously said the U.S. was considering a diplomatic boycott and they have moved forward with the decision.
The “diplomatic boycott” decided by the White House implies that U.S. athletes will compete in the Games, but that no U.S. political authority will be present.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games given China’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.”
Psaki further added all Team USA athletes have the full support of the administration but the administration will not contribute to the fanfare of the Games.
“U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of China’s egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang, and we simply can’t do that,” Psaki said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian has previously called any potential boycott as “an outright political provocation.” China has further threatened to respond to a boycott with “firm countermeasures” but gave no specifics on what those might be.
During an earlier briefing, Zhao reminded assembled reporters no American delegates, including President Biden, have actually been invited to Beijing for the Games.
Four years ago, Ivanka Trump, daughter and advisor to U.S. President Donald Trump, led the U.S. delegation to the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games, while First Lady Jill Biden and second gentlemen Doug Emhoff led the American contingent at the Tokyo 2020 Games this past summer.
The Beijing Games will be held from February 4-20, 2022.
Like Beijing 2008, the Beijing 2022 Games have been facing harsh criticism from human rights groups, who have claimed since before those summer Games that the Beijing regime is committing genocide against the Uyghur minority, who live in the northwest of the country.
And in recent days, the bizarre case of Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis player, intensified those criticisms and creates a perfect storm for Beijing and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), partners in the need for a successful Winter Games.
Beijing has downplayed all criticism from the West, and has called for the U.S. and other countries not to concern themselves with “internal affairs.”
Australia, the United Kingdom and other countries are also considering a diplomatic boycott of their own.