Dec 6, 2021 - World

U.S. announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

An Olympic-themed sculpture in Beijing photographed on Dec. 1.
An Olympic-themed sculpture in Beijing on Dec. 1. Photo: Hou Yu/China News Service via Getty Images

The U.S. announced Monday that it will not send officials to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in protest of human rights abuses committed by the Chinese Communist Party.

Why it matters: The diplomatic boycott — which won't prevent American athletes from competing — marks a major escalation between the U.S. and China amid already heightened tensions over the CCP's treatment of Muslim minorities, military threats to Taiwan and economic tariffs.

  • China said in April that there would be a "robust Chinese response" if the U.S. staged a full boycott of the Games, which are scheduled to start in February.

What they're saying: "The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games, given the PRC's ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

  • "The athletes on Team USA have our full support, we’ll be behind them 100% as we cheer them on from home," she added. "We will not be contributing to the fanfare of the Games."
  • "We believe U.S. athletes, people who have been training, giving up a lot of blood, sweat and tears preparing for these Olympics, should be able to go and compete."

The big picture: The U.S. declared earlier this year that the CCP's actions against Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, which include mass internment, forced labor and forced sterilization, constituted "genocide" and "crimes against humanity."

  • Before the boycott had been announced, the CCP and state media organizations had claimed that the Biden administration was politicizing the sporting event.
  • Nearly half of Americans are against China hosting the Games, according to an Axios/Momentive poll completed in August.
  • The diplomatic move also comes after the Women's Tennis Association suspended all tournaments in China and Hong Kong over Beijing's treatment of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai.

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