The US has announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics 2022 in China. Games will begin on February 4, 2022, till February 20, 2022. President Joe Biden said last month that he was thinking about not attending the games because of China’s track record of human rights violations. China faces allegations of committing genocide against its minority citizens, oppression in Hong Kong, and subjugation in Tibet. A large group of US diplomats, including Democrats and Republicans, were pleased to announce their withdrawal from the Chinese Olympics. They also encouraged others to do the same and said that China should not be able to host Olympic games ever.
However, the boycott is only limited to the diplomatic presence of the US, but the athletes are allowed to attend with the full support of the government.
Beijing Olympics 2022 Reveals Cold War Mentality of the US and China
China responded that this move by the US showed how it wanted to politicize sports, create further division, and provoke conflict. When Biden was weighing out the decision, China had already dismissed it as “irrelevant” last month. Chinese officials and the International Olympics Committee (IOC) said they wouldn’t invite any VIPs anyway. They also exclaimed that the success of the Beijing Olympics 2022 did not depend on the attendance of a “handful of countries”.
Moments after the US announcement, New Zealand said it would not send an official delegation. According to reports, the UK and Australia are also considering the boycott. Protests are going on in Australia and Hong Kong, calling to boycott the Chinese Olympics. The spokesman of the Chinese Embassy in the US, Liu Pengyu, said that no one would care if these people came or not as it would have no impact on the games. Previously, in anticipation of the boycott, China warned to take countermeasures against it. However, it was unlikely from the beginning that the US would ever attend games hosted in a country it accuses of genocide.
According to reports, the Chinese social media platform Weibo censored the search topic of “US diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics” and deleted almost 1,500 comments. Only 8 were left undelete, which were either Chinese-friendly or talked about the politicization of sports.
Putting Pressure on China
China is under severe scrutiny due to facing various allegations of human rights violations. According to reports, China has not improved its situation since the Summer Olympic Games in 2008. Many American politicians, including Nancy Pelosi, said that holding Olympics in a country accused of severe human rights violations was wrong. The recent case regarding Tennis star Peng Shuai also intensified the criticism of Beijing Olympics 2022.
The Chinese Tennis player disappeared for 3 weeks after publicly accusing former government official Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault. China faced global pressure to show proof of Peng’s safety, after which she appeared in a video phone call with IOC President Thomas Bach. She seemed to be okay and smiling, but the majority maintained that the video did not prove whether the Tennis star was free or coerced. The media could also not get access to the video, so the scepticism remained.
The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) suspended all tournaments in China last week because of doubts regarding Peng Shuai’s safety.
Previous Boycott of Olympics by the US
The US has previously decided to boycott Moscow Olympics 1980 to protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. It pulled out all of its athletes, unlike Beijing Olympics 2022. In turn, the Soviet Union boycotted American Olympics held in Los Angeles in 1984. The US is also about to host the Olympic games in Los Angeles in 2028.