US announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

The United States announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, a rebuke of China's human rights record that stops short of preventing U.S. athletes from competing.

The decision comes after Washington spent months wrangling over what position to take on the Games, hosted in February next year by a country it accuses of "genocide" against Uyghur Muslims in the northwestern Xinjiang region.

China's foreign ministry had earlier threatened "resolute countermeasures" to any such boycott.

But in an initial, muted reaction to Dec. 6's decision, the Chinese embassy spokesman in Washington said the boycott would have no impact on the Games and "no one would care about whether these people come or not."

The move was broadly welcomed by rights groups and politicians in the U.S., where President Joe Biden has been under pressure to speak out against Chinese rights abuses.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the administration would send no diplomatic or official representation to the Games given China's "ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses."

Sending official representation would signal that the Games were "business as usual," Psaki said.

"And we simply can't do that."

"The athletes on Team USA have our full support. We will be behind them 100 percent as we cheer them on from home," she added.

The International Olympic Committee called it a "purely political decision for each government, which the IOC in its political neutrality fully respects."

The announcement "also makes it clear that the Olympic Games and the participation of the athletes are beyond politics and we welcome this," an IOC spokesperson said.


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