Several countries have announced diplomatic boycotts of the 2022 Winter Olympics in China due to Beijing’s human rights record.
China, which will host the two-week events starting on February 4, criticized the boycotting countries for violating the political neutrality required in the spirit of the Olympic Charter.
In essence, diplomatic boycotts will change nothing for athletes and spectators alike. Their goal is to damage the pride of host countries like China, whose motives for organizing big events such as the Olympics or the soccer World Cup are often mixed with sports and politics.
Here is a group of countries that have carried out a diplomatic boycott.
The tiny Baltic state, a member of the European Union, was the first country in the world to declare a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics.
President Gitanas Nosida confirmed that neither he nor any government minister will be at the Games On the 3rd of December.
Lithuania and China have been in a diplomatic spat since the summer when Vilnius allowed Taiwan to open a representative office in the country using “Taiwan” instead of “Chinese Taipei”.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexandre de Croo confirmed to parliamentarians on December 18 that “the federal government will not send representation to the Games”.
Denmark has said it will not send diplomatic representation to the Olympics on January 14 due to the human rights situation in China.
Rest of the European Union
Although it has been repeatedly raised, many member states have not yet made a decision, arguing that they hope to find a common position for the European Union.
The French government sent mixed signals. The Minister of Education, Youth and Sports told the media that some senior officials will attend because “sport is a world in itself that must be preserved as much as possible from political interference” while the foreign minister stated that Paris “supports the common position” and that “this issue should be treated as Europe.” .
Germany echoed the latter, arguing that the decision should be taken “in harmony with our European friends.”
But many leaders questioned the bloc’s ability to come to a joint decision and the usefulness of a boycott, such as Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean Asselborn who stated that “Olympics are always political, and no Olympics are politically neutral”.
“As a European, I wonder if it’s right to send athletes to China and have political leaders watch TV,” he added.
Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg also seemed skeptical about the “artificial politicization of the Olympic Games”.
Meanwhile, Sweden said the cast would not attend the games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in early December that “there will be an effective diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics” as no high-ranking British officials will attend.
“The government does not hesitate to raise these issues with China, as it did with President Xi the last time I spoke to him,” he added.
United States of America
Washington announced its diplomatic boycott on December 6.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the decision was made over the “ongoing genocide in the People’s Republic of China, crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, and other human rights violations.”
“The athletes on Team USA have our full support. We will be 100 per cent behind them cheering from home, but not contributing to the hype of the Games,” she added.
Two days after the Washington announcement, Ottawa followed suit with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Writing on Twitter Canada remains deeply disturbed by reports of human rights abuses in China.
“As a result, we will not send diplomatic representatives in Beijing to participate in the Winter Olympics and Paralympics. We will continue to support our athletes who are working hard to compete on the world stage,” he added.
Tokyo announced it would not send a delegation of ministers on Dec. 24 despite choosing not to call it a diplomatic province, with Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno telling reporters, “We don’t use a specific term to describe how we’re present.”
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has made human rights an essential part of his diplomacy and created a special advisory position to address the issue and said he hopes to establish a constructive relationship with China.
“Japan believes that it is important for China to ensure the universal values of freedom, respect for basic human rights and the rule of law, which are universal values in the international community,” Matsuno said. He added that Japan took these points into consideration in making its decision.
Both Australia And New Zealand They joined the movement with Canberra saying it was the “right thing to do” and in the “national interest” of Australia.
However, authorities in New Zealand stressed that “there are a combination of factors but mostly to do with COVID, and the fact that travel logistics etc around COVID is not conducive to this type of trip.”