By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, Apr. 7: The US State Department on Tuesday denied that it was considering a joint boycott alongside allies of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, backing away from comments made by spokesperson Ned Price who suggested at a press briefing that a boycott of the Olympic Games was among one of the possibilities to address China’s human rights abuses.
“We have consistently said, when it comes to our concerns with the government in Beijing, including Beijing’s egregious human rights violations, its conduct of genocide in the case of Xinjiang, what the United States does is meaningful, what the United States does will have impact, but everything that we do that brings along our allies and partners will have all the more influence with Beijing,” Price said during the briefing.
“Our position on the 2022 Olympics has not changed. We have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners,” a senior State Department official later said in a statement. The clarification comes after Ned Price seemed to suggest that the discussions for a potential boycott are underway in the Biden administration.
“We’re talking about 2022, and we’re still in April of 2021, so these games remain some time away,” Price further said during the briefing. “I wouldn’t want to put a timeframe on it, but these discussions are underway.”
Price reiterated that sentiment in a tweet posted from the State Department spokesperson’s official Twitter account Tuesday evening, “As I said, we don’t have any announcement regarding the Beijing Olympics. 2022 remains a way off, but we will continue to consult closely with allies and partners to define our common concerns and establish our shared approach to the PRC.” The Games are scheduled to take place between Feb. 4 and Feb. 20.
Tibetans, Uyghurs, Hongkongers in March urged US President Biden and Secretary Antony Blinken to boycott the upcoming international Olympics in Beijing. Similar calls were made recently to official sponsors, Airbnb and Snickers, to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics.