US to boycott 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics as a calibrated rebuke of China’s human rights abuse

US to boycott 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics as a calibrated rebuke of China's human rights abuse

The United States on Monday announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

This happens to be a calibrated rebuke of China’s human rights record that stops short of preventing US athletes from competing.

The announcement comes after the US spent months wrangling with what position to take on the Games. These will be hosted in February 2022 by China.

The Joe Biden-led administration accuses Beijing of perpetrating genocide against Uyghur Muslims in the northwestern Xinjiang region.

However, there was no immediate reaction from Beijing, but the Chinese foreign ministry had earlier threatened resolute countermeasures to any such boycott.

The decision was broadly welcomed in the US. This comes as US President Joe Biden has been under pressure to speak out against Chinese rights abuses.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said sending official representation would signal that the Games were business as usual. “And we simply can’t do that.”

“The athletes on Team USA have our full support. We will be behind them 100 per cent as we cheer them on from home,” she added.

Winter Olympics

“The announcement also makes it amply clear that the Olympic Games and the participation of the athletes are beyond politics and we welcome this, an IOC spokesperson said.

It is worth noting that US-China relations hit a low point for former US President Donald Trump.

It was followed by a massive trade war and incendiary debates over how the Covid-19 virus first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

The Olympics boycott is part of a complex diplomatic balancing act.

Campaigners on the other hand also stress that at least one million Uyghurs and other Turkic-speaking, mostly Muslim minorities have been incarcerated in camps in Xinjiang.

China is also accused of forcibly sterilizing women and imposing forced labour. Moreover, the last full boycott of the Olympics by the US was in 1980. It was when President Jimmy Carter withdrew in protest against the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.

The Winter Olympics will be held from February 4 to 20 in a closed-loop bubble because of Covid-19 restrictions.

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