With the Summer Olympics barely behind us, the 24th Winter Olympics are scheduled to begin in Bejing, China in less than two months. President Biden has announced a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics, which means that neither he nor other American officials will be attending. It’s the Biden administration’s way of publicly condemning China’s repressive policies.
China’s human rights violations came under even more fire than usual lately as their turn to host the Winter Games drew closer. Many countries wondered if they should boycott the Games altogether, but it looks like world leaders are finding other ways to signal their disapproval of China’s policies while still allowing their athletes to attend and participate in the sports they’ve trained so long and hard for.
So far, China seems mad.
“This will only make people see the sinister intentions of the American side and will only make the American side lose more morality and credibility,” said Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
China’s state media columnist Chen Weihua expressed hope that President Biden would live long enough to see China boycott the Summer Olympics to be held in Los Angeles in 2028.
So far, America is sinister and is planning to boycott an entire Summer Games just to spite an old man. Great. Let’s see how other nations are shaping up.
Australia’s leaders also announced they are taking a stance similar to America’s and only sending athletes, not diplomats. The press conference they called clearly stated their reasons: concerns over human rights abuses in Xinjiang and China’s criticism of Australia’s plans for new nuclear submarines.
Britain has not yet decided if they are joining the boycott, but conservatives in that country are calling for them to stay home with the US and Australia. Germany, France, and Russia are noncommittal. Italy is still going.
Those who make the trek to China face stringent quarantine protocols that involve two weeks in isolation and daily health checks for at least one week, only to be released into the country and face many restrictions on travel and social interactions. This will likely limit attendance.
The extensive protocols will also provide a cover for nations who don’t want to send their diplomats for other reasons, whether stated or not. Many European nations have extensive trade connections with China that they don’t want to sever. Diplomatically boycotting the Bejing Olympics sends a message that would only anger China, not actually change any of their regressive policies.
The choice to attend or boycott is up to each nation (and each individual within that nation), but America’s decision was as expected. Maybe France is still figuring out what to do and if they can pass off any absence as COVID-related, but at least America has the courage to stand up and say what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.