What Countries Are Boycotting the 2022 Winter Olympics in China?

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Dec. 6 2021, Published 12:22 p.m. ET

Some human rights issues are bad enough that profit-making ventures will choose to lose money over them. Such is the case with China's human rights violations against the Uyghur Muslim population (and more) and nations opting out of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

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These countries might boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in China and more nations might follow suit.

The U.S. is expected to announce a China Olympics boycott this week.

Experts never thought the U.S. would announce a full boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, set to begin on February 4, 2022. However, White House sources have said that the U.S. will announce a "diplomatic boycott" the week of Dec. 6.

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A diplomatic boycott isn't the same as a full boycott. In a diplomatic boycott, no U.S. government officials will attend the games. However, athletes will still be permitted to participate in the competition.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, had some words for the U.S. in response. "The Winter Olympics is not a stage for political show and political manipulation," said Lijian, adding that China would take "resolute countermeasures" if the U.S. proceeds with a diplomatic boycott.

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Other countries are contemplating a boycott against the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Many nations haven't announced their boycott yet but are openly considering the move. For example, Australia has been open about its desire to enact a diplomatic boycott, but it's waiting for President Biden and the U.S. to announce its decision first.

The same goes for Canada, which has said it would potentially stage a boycott in partnership with its closest allies. As of Dec. 6, the U.K. hasn't made any statement on whether or not it will for sure stage a boycott, but it's considering it.

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Lithuania's foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis hopes that the European Union will foster some sort of coordination due to the volatile human rights situation in China.

Why are countries boycotting the China Olympics?

China's human rights violations are multifaceted. For one, there's the governmental genocide against the Uyghur, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Turkic Muslim peoples in Xinjiang, which started in 2014. China's history with these populations has been going on for thousands of years, but recent concentration camps have brought the issue to light.

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Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai also disappeared for weeks after speaking out about sexual assault by a former Chinese senior official. Peng appeared in a video conference in late November to speak with the International Olympic Committee, but critics say it was a coerced interaction and that she still might not be safe.

Diplomatic boycotts are the top option for nations because they don't want to punish their own athletes. A full boycott would mean winter sports athletes wouldn't be able to compete for another four years, which is enough time for many athletes to enter retirement.

However, even a widespread diplomatic boycott is a huge deal. It would mark the first mass boycott against an Olympics location since the Cold War when the U.S. led countries to boycott the former Soviet Union, which invaded Afghanistan in 1979. Naturally, the Soviets led another boycott four years later against the Los Angeles games.

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