News and Views on Tibet

US, UK and Canada mulling diplomatic boycott of Beijing winter Olympics

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Illustrations by Harry Blutstien

DHARAMSHALA, Nov. 23: Days after the US President announced the US’s consideration of a possible diplomatic boycott of the Beijing winter Olympics, the UK is reportedly also considering a diplomatic boycott of the Games in China. China’s Foreign Ministry condemned the US’s possible boycott, saying such moves go against the spirit of the Olympics. Canada is also said to be discussing a similar boycott.

Joe Biden, on Thursday, told reporters, as he hosted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Washington that a possible diplomatic boycott of the Olympics is “something we’re considering.” President Biden’s comment came days after the Biden-Xi meeting. During which, according to public statements from both countries, no discussions relating to the Olympics took place. 

China condemned Joe Biden for considering a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics over Human Rights abuses in China and its colonised regions. China’s Foreign Ministry criticised the United States for allegedly politicising sports. An act that goes against the spirit of the Olympics and damages the interests of athletes, said Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

According to Russian news agency Sputnik, the UK government is discussing a similar boycott of the Winter Olympics by not sending officials. The Times reported that an “active discussion” is being led by Foreign Minister Liz Truss. The Canadian Foreign Ministry said they will “continue to discuss this matter [of a possible boycott] with our closest partners”, CTV News reported. 

Countries traditionally send delegates to the Olympics but the possible boycott would keep American dignitaries from attending the sporting event, but not the athletes as a symbolic move against China’s Human Rights abuses and violations against Uyghurs, Tibetans and its crackdown on freedom in Hong Kong. The UK, although considering a similar diplomatic boycott, may be represented by the ambassador to China. The Foreign Ministry has not yet responded to the announcements of possible boycotts from the UK and Canada. 

Sports media agency Inside the Games reported that the long-serving member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Richard Pound has warned that the situation could “spin out of control”, forcing IOC to take a tougher stand. International support groups and Tibetan NGOs have been calling for the boycott of the “Genocide Games” under the campaign “No Beijing 2020” and others. 

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