The UK and Canada on Wednesday joined in a growing diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, citing concerns over China’s human rights record. The United States announced last Monday that it would not send government officials to the Games, which begin in February, although athletes could still participate.
President Joe Biden’s government has been under pressure to boycott the event for months, but calls have intensified since it disappeared from public view in November after Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai made public allegations of sexual harassment against a retired Chinese official. Human rights groups and some governments have cited concerns about the large-scale detention of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region and efforts to quell criticism in Hong Kong.
On Wednesday, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom and Lithuania announced they would not send diplomatic representatives to the Games. Earlier this week, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry called the US boycott “naked and blatant political provocation” and a crime against 1.4 billion Chinese.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday that the decision not to send government officials to the Winter Games was a “right move” as the conflict between the two countries and China’s coordination campaign was forced in Xinjiang. Canada’s relationship with China has been strained since the arrest in December 2018 of two Canadian citizens, Michael Gowrick and Michael Spover, who lived in China.
Diplomatic boycotts are intended to send a message of denial by allowing athletes to participate in the Olympics. Activists have been calling for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to cancel the event for more than a year, targeting sponsors and Western governments. Source: Dow Jones Newswire.
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