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Timothy LeDuc and Ashley Cain-Gribble at the Championship Pairs Free Skate in January.

U.S. Olympic pairs skater Timothy LeDuc called Chinese human rights abuses toward Uyghur Muslims "horrifying," USA Today reports.

Why it matters: A number of countries, including the U.S., have announced diplomatic boycotts of next month's Beijing Winter Games. Many athletes however, have "tiptoed around" commenting on the human rights abuses committed by China's government, USA Today notes.

  • The U.S. determined in 2021 China's campaign of mass internment, forced labor and forced sterilization of over 1 million Muslim minorities in Xinjiang constituted "genocide" and "crimes against humanity," per Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahemin.

What they're saying: "What I can say is we absolutely acknowledge the horrifying things that we've seen happening to the Uyghurs. I read somewhere the other day that it's the largest number of people held in internment and labor camps since World War II," LeDuc said at a press conference.

  • "I mean, these are horrifying human rights abuses that we're seeing happening. And it can feel very powerless when you read those things, because you think, 'What can I do," they added.
  • LeDuc said they also believe they see "human rights being violated here, in my country" specifically around trans rights and the right to an abortion.
  • "So that's kind of how I think of it. I feel powerless sometimes, seeing the situation in China. I can use my voice here, yes," they said. "But what I can do here to defend human rights is be sure that I am vigilant and vote for the people in my local communities and state and local elections to defend human rights here as well."

Of note: LeDuc is set to become the first openly non-binary person to compete at an Olympic Winter Games.

Go deeper

Jan 14, 2022 - Sports

Ultra-strict lockdowns preview what's in store for Beijing Olympics

An outdoor rink in Shenyang, Liaoning Province of China. Photo: Huang Jinkun/VCG via Getty Images

With the Beijing Winter Olympics beginning three weeks from today, ultra-strict lockdowns in Chinese cities provide a glimpse of what the games' protocols will look like.

State of play: China may be the last country on Earth still adhering to a "zero COVID" policy. Rather than relying on vaccines and carefully reopening, China's goal is still to contain the virus via lockdowns.

Updated 21 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker
Updated 1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Janet Yellen co-opts Reaganomics phrase for new Davos speech

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at a speech this week. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The U.S. needs to focus on increasing its productive potential, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told world leaders Friday, calling for what she terms "modern supply side economics."

Why it matters: She co-opted a phrase traditionally used by political conservatives to describe low-tax and deregulatory policies — and framed the Biden administration's initiatives as the best path forward to achieve greater national prosperity.