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Winter Olympics: Is your country diplomatically boycotting China’s human rights record?


Several countries have announced diplomatic boycotts of the 2022 Winter Olympics in China due to Beijing’s human rights record.

China, which will host the two week-long events from Feb. 4, criticized the boycotting countries for violating the political neutrality required in the spirit of the Olympic Charter.

In essence, diplomatic boycotts won’t change anything for athletes and viewers. Their aim is more to hurt the pride of host countries such as China, which often equate sports and politics with their motivations for hosting such important events as the Olympics or the FIFA World Cup.

Here is an overview of the countries practicing a diplomatic boycott.

Europe

Lithuania

The small Baltic state member of the European Union was the first country in the world to announce a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics.

President Gitanas Nauseda has confirmed that neither he nor any government minister will be at the Games December 3.

Lithuania and China have been embroiled in a diplomatic row since the summer when Vilnius allowed Taiwan to open a representative office in the country using “Taiwan” instead of “Chinese Taipei”.

Belgium

“The federal government will not send representation to the Games,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo confirmed to parliamentarians on 18 December.

Denmark

Denmark said it would not send diplomatic representation to the Olympics on January 14 due to the human rights situation in China.

The rest of the EU

Although questioned several times, several member states have not yet taken a decision, arguing that they hope to find a common EU position.

The French government has sent mixed signals. The minister for education, youth and sport told the media that some senior officials would be present because “sport is a world in itself which must be preserved as much as possible from political interference” while the minister for foreign affairs declared that Paris is “in favor of a common position”. and that “this question must be dealt with as Europe”.

Germany echoed the latter, arguing that the decision should be made “in harmony with our European friends”.

Several leaders, however, expressed doubts about the bloc’s ability to reach a common decision and about the usefulness of a boycott, such as Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean Asselborn who declared that “the Olympic Games are always political, it is not there are no politically neutral Olympics”.

“As a European citizen, I wonder if it is right to send athletes to China and have political leaders watch on TV,” he added.

Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg also seemed skeptical about an “artificial politicization of the Olympics”.

Sweden meanwhile said the representation would not attend the games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

UK

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in early December that “there will indeed be a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing” because no senior British official will attend.

“The government does not hesitate to raise these issues with China, as I did with President Xi the last time I spoke to him,” he added.

Americas

United States

Washington announced its diplomatic boycott on December 6.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the decision was made on “the PRC’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights violations. “.

“Team USA athletes have our full support. 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,” she added.

Canada

Two days after Washington’s announcement, Ottawa followed suit with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau write on twitter that “Canada remains deeply troubled by reports of human rights abuses in China.”

“As a result, we will not send diplomatic representatives to Beijing for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. We will continue to support our athletes who are working hard to compete on the world stage,” he added.

Asia

Japan

Tokyo announced it would not send a delegation of ministers on December 24, although it chose not to call it a diplomatic boycott, with Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno telling reporters, “We don’t use no particular term to describe how we attend to it”.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has made human rights a key part of his diplomacy and created a special advisory post to tackle the issue and said he hoped to establish a constructive relationship with China.

“Japan believes it is important for China to uphold the universal values ​​of freedom, respect for basic human rights and the rule of law, which are universal values ​​within the international community,” Matsuno said. Japan took these points into consideration to make its own decision, he added.

Oceania

Both Australia and New Zealand joined with Canberra saying it was ‘the right thing to do’ and in Australia’s ‘national interest’.

The New Zealand authorities however pointed out that “there were a series of factors, but mainly related to COVID, and the fact that the logistics of travel and so on around COVID are not conducive to this type of travel “.




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