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Netherlands, Denmark join diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics

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By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Jan. 19: The US-led diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics has been joined by two other Western nations; Denmark and Netherlands, citing Covid-19 and human rights concerns as their reasons for withdrawal. No official representation from these countries will be seen at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Winter Games to be held in over two weeks.

“We think that the severe Covid measures will make it difficult to have meetings in China and a substantive programme of bilateral meetings with the host country,” Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesman Frits Kemperman said on Friday, adding that the impossibility of dialogue due to Covid-19 is the main reason for their boycott. The spokesperson, however, insisted that the move is not inspired by the US-led boycott, but mainly to do with limitations of the event to have any discussion on the human rights violation done by the Chinese government. The king of Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, has also said he won’t be attending the event since the pandemic measures will prevent the Dutch fans from coming to the Olympics.

“The government has decided that we will not take part in the Winter Olympics in China … It is no secret that we, in Denmark, are very concerned by the human rights situation in China,” Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said in a statement the same day. The strongly worded boycott will, however, allow their athletes to compete in the elite, international games as the minister said they “can count on the total support of the government. And we will cheer them on as we always do, but from home, not from the bleachers of Beijing.”

As of today, US, UK, Australia, Japan, Lithuania and Scotland governments have announced boycott last month, citing Uyghur genocide and other human rights concerns as the reason for their protest. The diplomatic boycott has gotten strong rebuke from China as they accused American leaders of “political posturing”. The usage of ‘diplomatic boycott’ was first heard and tabled in one of the congressional hearings by the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in May urging the US government and other world leaders to refrain from attending the games on grounds of ‘moral authority’.

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