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Biden’s Winter Olympic Boycott Does Not Include Athletes

Jen Psaki said the Biden administration condemns the genocide of the Uyghur minority

The U.S. will conduct a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in protest of the human rights atrocities of the Chinese Communist Party. The Winter Olympic Boycott comes after months of politicians and activists pressuring the Biden administration to not attend the Olympics, and a few days after the Woman’s Tennis Association (WTA) decided to stop their tournaments in China due to the concerns over Peng Shuai’s safety.

WH Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced the measure this Monday, saying that the Biden administration will not send any official delegation to the games due to the “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human right abuses.” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian responded to the announcement, saying that “if the U.S. insists in willfully clinging to this course, China will take resolute countermeasures.”

The Uyghurs, a Muslim minority population that lives in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, have been systematically oppressed by the Beijing government, with hundreds of thousands of Uyghur being imprisoned in “reeducation camps” while sentencing thousands to prison terms. The atrocities against the Uyghur were categorized as genocide by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during the last day of the Trump administration.

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The Biden administration announced the diplomatic boycott this Monday (EFE)

However, the boycott will not include the American sports delegation, since Psaki’s announcement only refers to a diplomatic representation and not American athletes. In fact, Psaki said that “the athletes in Team USA have our full support as we continue to cheer them from home”, the Team USA official website has not made any mention of an athlete boycott to the game.

The last time the United States of America conducted any type of boycott against an Olympic game was in 1980 when then-President Jimmy Carter decided to not send any athletes to the Moscow Summer Olympics as a protest to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, a move that was then responded with a Soviet boycott to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Reactions to the Winter Olympic Boycott

The International Olympic Committee also responded to the announcement, saying in a statement that “the presence of government officials and diplomats is a purely political decision for each government, which the IOC in its political neutrality fully respects. At the same time, this announcement also makes clear that the Olympic Games and the participation of the athletes are beyond politics, and we welcome this.”

Politicians and athletes have commended the move. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) said that a diplomatic boycott will both send a message that the U.S. does not condone the human rights atrocities of the Chinese government and that it does not punish Olympic athletes. Celtics player and anti-CCP activist Enes Kanter Freedom congratulated the move, but also said that is not enough, asking the U.S. government “how many people need to be tortured & raped for U.S. to do something more serious.”

Similarly, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that a diplomatic boycott is not enough as “The CCP doesn’t give a rip about a diplomatic boycott, because at the end of the day, they are still hosting the world’s athletes. Joe Biden needs to stand up to the CCP.”

The recent move by the United States also comes a few days after Republican Senator Marco Rubio (FL) demanded the Senate to approve a bill that would ban imports that come from the Xinjiang region, due to concerns of the Chinese Communist Party using slave Uyghur labor. Rubio introduced the amendment as part of the ongoing Congressional standstill over the national Defense Authorization Act.

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