Believe it or not, the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, are almost upon us, with the opening ceremony scheduled for Feb. 4, 2022—not even six months after the postponed 2020 Summer Olympics ended in Tokyo, Japan. U.S. athletes will be able to compete in the Beijing games, but the Biden administration will not send an official delegation to the event due to a new diplomatic boycott against the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the boycott on Dec. 6, citing China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.”
A government delegation at the Beijing games “would treat these games as business as usual,” Psaki said
“The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games given the PRC’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses,” Psaki told reporters on Dec. 6 at a press briefing. “U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the PRC’s egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang, and we simply can’t do that.”
Psaki said that U.S. athletes competing in Beijing in Feb. 2022 will have the “full support” of the Biden administration. “We will be behind them 100 percent as we cheer them on from home. We will not be contributing to the fanfare of the games. U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the PRC’s egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang, and we simply can’t do that.”
She went on to say, “As the president has told President Xi, standing up for human rights is in the DNA of Americans. We have a fundamental commitment to promoting human rights, and we feel strongly about our position. And we will continue to take actions to advance human rights in China and beyond.”
Sen. Tom Cotton pushed for a “full boycott” of the games—athletes and sponsors included
On Nov. 18, Joe Biden said a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Olympics was something his administration was “considering.” That same day, Sen. Tom Cotton (R–Ark.), a member of the Intelligence Committee, asked the administration to ban athletes and sponsors from the Beijing games, citing not just human rights abuses but security risks as well.
“I call on the Biden administration to mount a complete and total boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics—no athletes, no administration officials, no corporate sponsors,” he said, reports NBC News. On Dec. 6, Cotton criticized Biden, reiterating his demand and saying that the president “opted for a half measure” with the diplomatic ban.
In his statement, Cotton warned about the “dangers of a repugnant authoritarian regime that disappears its own athletes,” perhaps referring to the ongoing concerns about Chinese tennis star and whistleblower Peng Shuai.