Biden says the US is considering a diplomatic boycott

A visitor walks past the logos of the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing during the Beijing Olympic Expo, marking the 10th anniversary of the 2008 Olympic Games, in Beijing.

Wang Zhao | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON. President Joe Biden said Thursday that the US is considering a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing to protest China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority.

Amid the diplomatic boycott, American athletes will continue to participate in the games starting on February 4, 2022. But an official delegation of US government officials will not attend.

The idea of ​​a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games is not new. Back in April, a State Department official said the US was in talks with key allies about ways to protest China’s human rights violations at the Winter Olympics.

But on Thursday, Biden himself confirmed for the first time that a diplomatic boycott is “what we are looking at.”

Biden gave a short answer to a direct question before quickly moving on to the next reporter. The exchange took place during a meeting in the Oval Office with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Earlier this week, The Washington Post reported that the announcement a diplomatic US boycott of the Beijing Games is likely to happen before the end of the month.

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Human rights activists have long called for a global boycott of the Beijing Olympics, which they called the “Genocide Games.” They also called on the International Olympic Committee to postpone or postpone events.

But Western governments have generally resisted the idea of ​​a total boycott of the games – a move they see as unfairly punishing athletes for wrongdoing by the host government.

Beijing drew international condemnation for “Extensive program of repression” against members of the ethnic group of the Uyghur Muslim minority.

In March, the United States and its allies imposed sanctions on several officials in Xinjiang, the traditional homeland of the Uyghur people. These sanctions remain in effect.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called the treatment of Uighurs in China “genocide,” but Biden did not use that word. Beijing denies violating the human rights of the Uyghurs.

Biden’s remarks came just days after he held a highly anticipated virtual summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday night. However, the summit did not bring concrete results.

A White House spokesman later confirmed that the Olympics were not discussed during the meeting, which lasted several hours.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC, owns NBC Sports and NBC Olympics. The NBC Olympics holds the broadcast rights for all of the US Summer and Winter Games through 2032.

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