Boycott of the Beijing Olympics: the UN chief will go to the ceremony, Macron refuses a “very small and symbolic” measure

Following the announcement of a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics by the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced Thursday December 9, his coming to the opening ceremony. “The Secretary General has received an invitation from the International Olympic Committee [CIO] to attend the opening of the Winter Games in Beijing and accepted it ”, summed up a spokesperson.

The four Anglo-Saxon countries have chosen to diplomatically boycott the ceremonies, which means that their athletes will participate in the competitions, but their politicians will not travel. It is a way of denouncing, in particular, the violations of human rights by the Chinese regime, particularly in the predominantly Muslim province of Xinjiang.

France will not agree with this decision, which the Head of State, Emmanuel Macron, described as “Very small and symbolic”. During a press conference to outline the program of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, he explained:

« We have to be clear, either we do a complete boycott, we do not send athletes, or we try to restart things and have a useful action. As always internationally, I am more for doing things that have a useful effect. “

With this in mind, France “Will assess the evolution of the situation in conjunction with other Europeans, with the IOC”, he added, believing that we should not “Politicize this subject”. The country is expected to be represented by the Minister for Sports, Roxana Maracineanu, and Sophie Cluzel, the Secretary of State for People with Disabilities.

Read our editorial: Beijing Olympics: the inevitable question of human rights

“Whether their official representatives come or not …”

The Anglo-Saxon diplomatic boycott was greeted with a cleverly balanced mixture of anger and contempt among Chinese officials. “They will inevitably pay the price for this bad move”, said the spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry after this “Use for political manipulation (…). Whether their official representatives come or not, the Beijing Winter Games will be a success ”.

In addition to the fate of the million Uighurs and other Turkish-speaking minorities, mainly Muslims, currently imprisoned in camps in Xinjiang, according to human rights NGOs, there are many sources of tension with Beijing.

Read also Understanding the repression of China’s Uighurs in five questions

The Olympics are slated for Feb. 4-20, but, with China’s restrictions on foreign entry in the name of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, few global policymakers are expected to, in fact, make the trip to Beijing… with the notable exception of Russian President Vladimir Poutine, who accepted the invitation of his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.

Also read Alice Ekman’s op-ed: Article reserved for our subscribers “For China, to occupy the ‘dominant position’ requires a new division of the world, where the United States and its allies would be progressively marginalized”

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Boycott of the Beijing Olympics: the UN chief will go to the ceremony, Macron refuses a “very small and symbolic” measure