WASHINGTON | The United States will send its athletes but no diplomatic representatives to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics due to China’s human rights abuses, the White House announced on Monday despite Chinese warnings .
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By being present, “the American diplomatic representation would treat these Games as if nothing had happened, despite China’s gross human rights violations and atrocities in Xinjiang. And we just can’t do that,” said White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
China had warned earlier on Monday that it would take “countermeasures” if the United States called for such a boycott, calling it “bragging”. The International Olympic Committee for its part declared to “respect” the American decision.
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“If the United States wants to do things its own way, China will take firm countermeasures,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.
Overnight Monday-Tuesday, Liu Pengyu, spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in the United States, said politicians calling for a boycott of the Games were doing so “for their own interests and political posturing.” “In fact, no one would care whether these people come or not, and it has no impact on the success of #Beijing2022,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Frankly, the Chinese are relieved to hear the news, because the fewer US officials there will be, the less virus there will be,” tweeted Chinese state-run tabloid Global Times.
With this boycott, no representative of the United States government will attend the Olympic or Paralympic Games, but American athletes will participate in the competitions.
“Team USA athletes have our full support. We will be behind them 100% while we encourage them from here,” said Jen Psaki.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was delighted that Washington’s “political” decision did not call into question the participation of American athletes.
“The presence of government officials and diplomats is a purely political decision for each government, which the IOC, in its political neutrality, fully respects,” a spokesman for the Olympic body told AFP.
“Blank check in Beijing”
The State Department said that diplomatic personnel would be present in Beijing “to assure our athletes, our coaches, and those associated with the American Olympic team that they are safe”. This represents “a different subject from official diplomatic representation”, according to spokesman Ned Price.
For months, the US government has been looking for the best way to position itself with regard to the Winter Games, a popular and planetary event organized from February 4 to 20, 2022 by a country which it accuses of perpetrating a “genocide” against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, northwest China.
Several human rights organizations accuse Beijing of having interned at least a million Muslims in Xinjiang in “re-education camps”.
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The Chinese authorities systematically denounce the “interference” of Westerners who condemn this situation, assuring that it is a question of “vocational training centers” to support employment and combat religious extremism.
In the wake of the announcement by the White House, several American political leaders welcomed this boycott.
“The past three decades of abuse and repression by Beijing show that the international community can no longer write a blank check to Beijing and hope that its behavior will simply change,” the Democratic leader of the House said in a statement. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.
On the Republican side, Senator Mitt Romney said that this boycott was “the right message” to send to Beijing, “without punishing American athletes”.
“Never again should the Olympics be awarded to a country that commits genocide and so flagrantly violates the human rights of its own citizens,” added Romney, head of the Olympics organizing committee, in a tweet. Salt Lake City winter of 2002.
The former head of American diplomacy under Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo called for a complete boycott of the Olympics. “The Chinese Communist Party doesn’t give a damn about a diplomatic boycott because at the end of the day they still welcome athletes from all over the world,” he said on Twitter.
Justice for survivors
For Sophie Richardson, director of the NGO Human Rights Watch for China, this boycott represents “a crucial step in confronting the Chinese state with its crimes against humanity targeting the Uyghurs and the Turkish-speaking populations”.
“But that shouldn’t be the only action,” she added, however. “The United States should now redouble its efforts with aligned states to investigate and determine the best avenues to hold those responsible for these crimes to account and bring justice to survivors.”
The American Olympic Committee, for its part, opposes a total boycott, explaining that the Games are important after months of pandemic.
He has judged in the past that the boycott of the Games in Moscow in 1980, by the United States and some sixty other countries, and of those in Los Angeles in 1984, by the Soviet Union and its allies, had shown that Using these events as a ‘political tool’ was a ‘mistake’.
American diplomatic boycott: The Kremlin wants an Olympics free of all politics »
The Kremlin ruled on Tuesday that the Olympics should remain “politically free” after the United States announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in the name of defending human rights.
“We advocate that Olympic affairs remain free from politics,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, while noting that “the main thing (…) is that (American) athletes are not affected” by boycott.
The United States will send its athletes, but no diplomatic representative to the 2022 Olympics due to human rights violations by China, particularly in the predominantly Muslim region of Xinjiang (northwest), the House announced on Monday. -Blanche, provoking the anger of the Chinese authorities.
Due to China’s restrictions on the entry of foreigners in the name of the fight against Covid-19, few global politicians are expected to travel from Beijing, except for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who agreed the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
For months, the US government has been looking for the best way to position itself with regard to the Winter Games, a popular and planetary event organized from February 4 to 20, 2022 by a country which it accuses of perpetrating a “genocide” against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.
Accused since 2015 of having set up an institutional doping system, Russia is suspended from major international competitions until 2022, its anthem, its flag and even its name being banned.
Own Russian athletes are, however, allowed to participate in these competitions as neutral athletes.
Russian officials, including Vladimir Putin, have also been banned from attending international competitions unless invited by the host country’s head of state.