The United States announces a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics in 2022

By being present, “the American diplomatic representation would treat these Games as if nothing had happened, despite the gross human rights violations and China’s atrocities in Xinjiang. And we simply cannot do that,” said the statement. White House spokesperson Jen Psaki.

China had warned earlier on Monday that it would take “countermeasures” if the United States called for such a boycott, calling it “bluster”. The International Olympic Committee for its part declared to “respect” the American decision.

“If the United States wants to do things its way at all costs, China will take firm countermeasures,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.

With this boycott, no representative of the United States government will attend the Olympic or Paralympic Games, but American athletes will participate well in the competitions.

“The Team USA athletes have our full support. We will be 100% behind them while we cheer them on from here,” said Jen Psaki.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is delighted that Washington’s “political” decision does not call into question the participation of American athletes.

“The presence of government officials and diplomats is a purely political decision for each government, which the IOC, in its political neutrality, fully respects,” a spokesperson for the Olympic body told AFP.

“Blank check in Beijing”

The State Department said diplomatic personnel would be present in Beijing “to assure our athletes, coaches, and people associated with the US Olympic team that they are safe.” Which represents “a different subject from official diplomatic representation,” according to spokesperson Ned Price.

For months, the US government had been looking for the best way to position itself with regard to the Winter Games, a popular and global event organized from February 4 to 20, 2022 by a country it accuses of perpetrating a “genocide” against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, northwest China.

Several human rights organizations accuse Beijing of having interned at least a million Muslims in Xinjiang in “re-education camps”.

The Chinese authorities systematically denounce “the interference” of Westerners who condemn this situation, assuring that they are “vocational training centers” to support employment and fight religious extremism.

In the wake of the announcement by the White House, several American politicians welcomed this boycott.

“The last three decades of abuse and repressive acts by Beijing show that the international community can no longer sign a blank check in Beijing and hope that its behavior will simply change,” the Democratic leader of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said in a statement. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.

On the Republican side, Senator Mitt Romney said that this boycott was “the right message” to send to Beijing, “without punishing American athletes”.

“The Olympics should never again be attributed to a country which commits genocide and so flagrantly violates the human rights of its own citizens”, added in a tweet Mr. Romney at the head of the organizing committee of the Olympic Games. winter in Salt Lake City in 2002.

The former head of American diplomacy under Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo called for a complete boycott of the Olympics. “The Chinese Communist Party doesn’t give a damn about a diplomatic boycott, because at the end of the day they still welcome athletes from all over the world,” he said on Twitter.

Justice for survivors

For Sophie Richardson, director of the NGO Human Rights Watch for China, this boycott represents “a crucial step in confronting the Chinese state with its crimes against humanity targeting the Uyghurs and the Turkish-speaking populations”.

“But that shouldn’t be the only action,” she added, however. “The United States should now redouble its efforts with States aligned on the matter to investigate and determine the best ways to hold those responsible for these crimes to account and to bring justice to the survivors.”

The American Olympic Committee is opposed to a total boycott, explaining that the Games are important after months of a pandemic.

He has ruled in the past that the boycott of the Moscow Games in 1980, by the United States and some sixty other countries, and of those of Los Angeles in 1984, by the Soviet Union and its allies, had shown that to use these events as a “political tool” was a “mistake”.

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The United States announces a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics in 2022