- President Biden said he is considering a US diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing to protest China’s treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority.
- Under a diplomatic boycott, US athletes would participate in the Games, but US officials would not attend.
- Human rights activists have long called for a global boycott of the Beijing Olympics, which they have labeled the “Genocide Games”.
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden said Thursday that the US is considering a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing to protest China’s treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority.
Under a diplomatic boycott, US athletes will still participate in the Games, which begin on February 4, 2022. But an official delegation of US government officials would not attend.
The idea of a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games is not new. In early April, a State Department spokesman said the US was in talks with key allies about ways to counter China’s human rights record at the Winter Olympics.
But on Thursday, Biden himself confirmed for the first time that a diplomatic boycott is “something we are considering.”
Before quickly turning to the next reporter, Biden answered briefly in response to a direct question. The exchange took place during a meeting in the Oval Office with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Earlier this week, The Washington Post said that the announcement The US diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games is likely to happen before the end of this month.
Human rights activists have long called for a global boycott of the Beijing Olympics, which they have dubbed the “Genocide Games”. He has also urged the International Olympic Committee to postpone or move the events.
But Western governments have generally shied away from the idea of a complete boycott of the Games, a move they regard as unfairly punishing athletes for misdeeds by the host government.
Beijing has drawn international condemnation for this. “Comprehensive Program of Repression” against members of his Uyghur Muslim minority ethnic group.
In March, the United States and its allies imposed sanctions on several officials in Xinjiang province, the traditional homeland of the Uyghur people. Those restrictions remain in place.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called the treatment of Uighurs in China “genocide”, but Biden did not use the term. Beijing denies that it has violated the human rights of Uighurs.
Biden’s comments came just days after holding a much-anticipated virtual summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday night. However, the summit produced little in the way of concrete results.
A White House spokesman later confirmed that the Olympics did not take place during the meeting, which lasted several hours.
Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal is the owner of NBC Sports and NBC Olympics. NBC Olympics is the US broadcast rights holder for all Summer and Winter Games until 2032.