The nations of the United Kingdom and Australia are joining Washington’s diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympic Games scheduled for February of 2022, per announcements from the prime ministers of both nations on Wednesday.
US President Joe Biden had announced earlier this week that America would not be sending a diplomatic delegation to the Winter Games in Beijing next year, citing China’s atrocities in its mass incarceration of Uyghurs as one of the reasons.
Now, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has joined the boycott, stating on Wednesday that his foreign ministry will “effectively” boycott the Beijing Games as well.
Japan, other nations reportedly mulling joining diplomatic boycott
Meanwhile, Japan and other nations are reportedly mulling the same actions in the face of the rampant human rights abuses in China.
For its part, Chinese officials warned after the US announcement that the US would “pay a price” for the diplomatic boycott, saying that there would be measures taken in response to Biden’s decision. So far there have been no details forthcoming regarding just what form those might take.
“The athletes on Team USA have our full support,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said when the announcement was made, adding “We will be behind them 100% as we cheer them on from home. (But) we will not be contributing to the fanfare of the Games.”
Psaki cited China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses” as the main reasons for the diplomatic boycott. She said that although US athletes would not be barred from taking part, the US still had to send a signal of its disapproval of China’s actions.
“It cannot be business as usual,” Psaki added.
Boris Johnson spoke about the British decision for a diplomatic boycott when he was asked about the issue in a session of Parliament on Wednesday. He stated “There will be effectively a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, no ministers are expected to attend and no officials.”
However, he said the athletes will not be included in the boycott.
“I do not think that sporting boycotts are sensible and that remains the policy of the government,” he noted.
Australian PM Scott Morrison stated that his nation also will send athletes, but no government officials will attend the Olympics in Beijing.
Morrison said the decision was made because of Australia’s struggles in attempting to re-open diplomatic channels with China to discuss the mass incarcerations of Uyghurs in the far western region of Xinjiang as well as Beijing’s moves penalizing Australian imports to China.
Morrison added that Chinese officials had not responded to several issues that his government had raised, including the accusations on human rights abuses.
“So it is not surprising therefore that Australian government officials would not be going to China for those Games,” Morrison told Reuters in Sydney, clarifying however that Australian athletes are still allowed to attend the Games.
China continues to deny the existence of any ongoing atrocities on its soil, maintaining that the allegations have all been fabricated.
Wang Wenbin, Beijing’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, told reporters at his daily press conference that Australian politicians were engaged in “political posturing”, according to a report from Reuters.
“Whether they come or not, nobody cares,” he then declared.