Winter Olympics: Is Your Country Diplomatically Boycotting China’s Human Rights Record?
Several countries have announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in China due to Beijing’s human rights record.
China, which will host the two-week events from Feb.4, criticized boycotting countries for violating the political neutrality required in the spirit of the Olympic Charter.
In essence, diplomatic boycotts will not change anything for athletes and viewers. Their aim is more to damage the pride of host countries such as China, which often have both sport and politics in their motivations for staging such important events as the Olympics or the FIFA World Cup.
Here is an overview of the countries carrying out a diplomatic boycott.
The small member state of the Baltic European Union was the first country in the world to announce a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics.
President Gitanas Nauseda has confirmed that neither he nor any government minister will attend the Games December 3.
Lithuania and China have been embroiled in a diplomatic row since the summer, when Vilnius allowed Taiwan to open a representative office in the country using “Taiwan” instead of “Chinese Taipei”.
“The federal government is not going to send representation to the Games,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo confirmed to parliamentarians on 18 December.
The rest of the EU
Despite repeated requests, several member states have yet to take a decision, arguing that they hope to find a common EU position.
The French government has sent mixed signals. The Minister of Education, Youth and Sports told the media that some senior officials would be present because “sport is a world in itself which must be preserved as much as possible from political interference” while the Minister of Foreign Affairs said Paris is “in favor of a common position”. and that “this question must be treated like Europe”.
Germany echoed the latter, arguing that the decision should be taken “in harmony with our European friends”.
Several leaders, however, questioned the bloc’s ability to reach a common decision and the usefulness of a boycott, such as Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean Asselborn who declared that “the Olympic Games are always political, there is no no politically neutral Olympics “.
“As a European citizen, I wonder if it is right to send athletes to China and have political leaders watch on television,” he added.
Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg also seemed dubious about an “artificial politicization of the Olympic Games”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in early December that “there will indeed be a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing” because no senior British official will participate.
“The government does not hesitate to raise these issues with China, as I did with President Xi the last time I spoke to him,” he added.
Washington announced its diplomatic boycott on December 6.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the decision had been taken regarding “the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in the PRC in Xinjiang and other human rights violations.”
“The Team USA athletes have our full support. We will support them 100 percent as we cheer them on from home, but we will not be contributing to the Games fanfare,” she added.
Two days after Washington’s announcement, Ottawa followed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s footsteps write on twitter that “Canada remains deeply troubled by reports of human rights violations in China.”
“As a result, we will not be sending diplomatic representatives to Beijing for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. We will continue to support our athletes who work hard to compete on the world stage,” he added.
Tokyo announced that it would not send a delegation of ministers on December 24, although it chose not to call it a diplomatic boycott, with Cabinet Secretary-General Hirokazu Matsuno telling reporters: “We are not using a particular term to describe how we are witnessing it “.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has made human rights a key part of his diplomacy and created a special advisory post to tackle the issue and said he hopes to build constructive relations with China.
“Japan believes that it is important for China to guarantee the universal values of freedom, respect for basic human rights and the rule of law, which are universal values within the international community,” Matsuno said. Japan took these points into consideration when making its own decision, he added.
Both Australia and New Zealand joined the movement with Canberra saying it was “the right thing to do” and in “Australia’s national interest”.
The New Zealand authorities, however, pointed out that “there were a series of factors but mainly related to COVID, and the fact that the logistics of travel and so on around COVID are not conducive to this kind of travel” .