Updated Dec 8, 2021 - World

Australia joins U.S. in diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

 Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison is seen following the state funeral for Australian actor Bert Newton at St Patrick's Cathedral on November 12, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Australia is joining the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games in protest of human rights abuses committed by China's government, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed Wednesday.

Driving the news: After the Biden administration's announcement that U.S. officials won't attend the Games due to the ongoing genocide of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region of China, Morrison said at a Sydney briefing that Australia would follow suit as "it's the right thing to do."

  • Morrison said "it is not surprising" that Australian officials wouldn't attend the Games, given that Beijing had not been receptive to their requests to meet and discuss human rights abuses and other issues.
  • As with the U.S., Australian athletes will still compete in Beijing.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday that no U.K. ministers would attend the Games. Johnson added that he opposes "sporting boycotts" but later called the move "effectively a diplomatic boycott."

What they're saying: A Chinese government official told reporters that the U.S. would "pay the price" for the boycott and threatened retaliatory measures, per Reuters.

  • The Chinese Embassy in Australia issued a statement accusing Australia's government of "political posturing."

Worth noting: New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson told reporters Tuesday that NZ officials also wouldn't attend the Beijing Games, citing "a range of factors but mostly to do with COVID."

  • "But we've made clear to China on numerous occasions our concerns about human rights issues," he added.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from Boris Johnson and the Chinese government.

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