Will we see heads of state and government at the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will take place from February 4-20?
according to Washington PostThe United States could be the first to announce a “diplomatic boycott” to protest the oppression of Uyghur Muslims. Obviously, this means that no US diplomat, official or elected official will make the trip to China, unlike athletes.
If the White House spokesperson confined himself to saying on Tuesday that the issue of such a boycott was not raised by Joe Biden and Xi Jinping during their virtual summit, the US newspaper asserted that such an announcement should come from the US president “by the end of November.”
Human rights are at the heart of this decision
Why is such a decision made? The United States, and not only, is protesting human rights abuses in China, especially regarding the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang Province.
The repression of these Muslims has been at the center of concerns since human rights groups accused China of persecuting them by placing them in concentration camps. Several videos on social networks helped create a large wave of protest.
Much of the American political class welcomed the potential boycott. Republican Senator Mitt Romney welcomed this on Twitter. “It is unacceptable that China can host the Olympics when the Chinese Communist Party commits genocide against the Uyghurs. I have long advocated a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games and hope the administration will send a strong message to the Chinese Communist Party, without punishing American athletes.”
Similarly, Jim Risch, the Republican leader on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, issued a statement saying such a decision would be the “right choice.”
There is no perception of a sports boycott?
On the other hand, this boycott should not become a sports and American athletes should be allowed to compete.
In 1980, several countries decided not to send a delegation to Moscow to protest against the invasion of Soviet forces in Afghanistan in 1979. This time, even if many Republicans urge Joe Biden to move forward, with boycotts in general, the Biden administration does. He does not appear willing to penalize the athletes, following the advice of the American Olympic Committee (AOC).
“The boycotts have proven to have negative consequences for athletes, while not responding satisfactorily to international issues. For our athletes, the only dream is to represent the USA,” appealed Susan Lyons, president of the Olympic Committee.
Europe tends to diplomatic boycott
The idea of a diplomatic boycott by the United States dates back several months. In May 2021, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, launched an initial appeal asserting that “genocide is underway.”
“We can’t pretend that everything is going well with the Olympics being held in China. Let’s do a diplomatic boycott if the Olympics are held. Let’s not honor the Chinese government for receiving heads of state,” she exclaimed during an ad hoc hearing for human rights and in Beijing before you ask them. What moral authority would you have to talk about human rights everywhere in the world?”
In recent months, the Americans haven’t been the only ones to provoke a diplomatic boycott, which is certainly uncommon but easier to implement. This summer, the British Parliament unanimously passed a motion calling for a diplomatic boycott. Thus, the athletes will have a small procession with one athlete as the flag bearer and without a full delegation.
At the beginning of November, the European Parliament called on EU officials and member states to reject calls from Beijing, conveying a message already launched in July when MEPs voted for a resolution encouraging its member states to boycott the Beijing Games.
So the end of 2021 should be tense for China, which is afraid to organize the Games without representatives from each country.
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