The Biden administration is expected to announce a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing this week, a senior administration official said Sunday evening.
A diplomatic boycott would mean that no U.S. government official would attend the games, but U.S. athletes would still be allowed to compete.
A full boycott was not expected.
CNN first reported the news of the expected announcement.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded to the decision expected Monday morning.
“The Winter Olympics are not a scene of political spectacle and political manipulation,” spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily press briefing. He said a boycott would be “a serious stain on the spirit of the Olympic Charter”, the document which sets out the spirit of the games, as well as “a pure political provocation and a grave offense against the 1.4 billion people. Chinese. “
Previously, Chinese government officials have warned of a “robust chinese response“if the United States or other countries launch boycotts.
The Biden administration has come under pressure from lawmakers to institute the diplomatic boycott. They wanted to take a stand against human rights violations in China.
President Joe Biden said last month that the administration was considering the move.
China has been criticized for cracking down on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, for its policies toward Tibet and Taiwan, and for detaining and abusing Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
The State Department, as well as some European countries, have called China’s actions against the Uyghurs “genocide.”
“We have serious concerns about the human rights violations that we have seen,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last month.
Calls for a diplomatic or total boycott of the games have increased since Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai disappeared from the public eye for three weeks after making sexual assault allegations against a former senior Chinese Communist Party official.
Peng has since reappeared, but questions remain as to whether she is acting on her own accord.
A diplomatic boycott is seen by some as the best way to hold China to account without punishing athletes who have been training for the games for years. Others say Beijing wouldn’t care too much about a few absent politicians and diplomats.
“Why should China care about their noises?” An editorial in the state-run Global Times newspaper said last month, referring to Western objections to the games. “China would lose if it cared about this strategy.”
If the United States imposed such a boycott, it probably wouldn’t be the only country to do so. Canada, the UK and Australia are among those who have said they are considering similar action.
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A mass Olympic boycott would be the first since the Cold War.
In 1980, President Jimmy Carter’s administration led more than 60 countries to boycott the Moscow Olympics following the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan a year earlier. In retaliation, fifteen countries followed a Soviet boycott of the games in Los Angeles four years later.
Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, is opposed to boycotts against the flagship event of his organization.
“A sports boycott is useless,” he said last year, noting that the Soviet Union was in Afghanistan for nine years after the 1980 boycott following its invasion. “It only hurts the athletes and the people of the country because they lose the joy of sharing.”
The IOC has been accused of being too lenient with China, both in the Peng affair and in allowing Beijing to host the games.
Growing pressure on China comes as the Uyghur tribunal, a non-governmental body set up by British lawyers, prepares to pass judgment on Thursday on whether China’s actions against its Uyghur Muslim minority amount to genocide , which the United States already says is the case.
China says camps where human rights groups say around 1 million people have been detained are for “vocational education and training” and are needed to fight domestic terrorism .