Diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics: Is US right?
- On December 6, 2021, the US announced it would boycott February’s Beijing Olympics because of China’s “human rights atrocities” however, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “The athletes on Team USA have our full support.” Canada, Australia, and Britain joined the diplomatic boycott as well.
- The winter 2022 Olympics are projected to last from February 4 to February 20, 2022 in Beijing, China.
- The summer 2020 Olympics took place in Tokyo, Japan, and aired from July 23 to August 8, 2021 with 11,000 competing athletes in 33 sports for 339 medal events.
- A list of recorded human rights violations and general grievances against China includes the suppression of Hong Kong’s democracy; the unlawful detainment, 're-education' and forced abortions of the minority Uighur Muslim population; the current “surveillance state” routinely silencing critics at home and abroad; and illegal organ harvesting of detainees.
The recent boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics is a step towards solving the bigger problem of China's human rights crimes. To have countries like the US, Australia, and the United Kingdom coming together in agreeing over the situation is a sign that this is a bigger problem that needs world attention in order to be fixed, such as stopping the Uighur genocide occurring in China.
As previously mentioned, the US is not the only nation participating in this boycott of the Beijing Olympics. However, these countries participating in the boycott aren't boycotting the Olympics as a whole. They will still send athletes, which means they aren't violating the Olympic spirit as China has accused the US of doing. Boycotting doesn’t take away US athletes’ right to choose to compete or not. Athletes who disagree with the US’s decision will not be punished, which is not the case for China when one of their athletes—most recently tennis player Peng Shuai—disagrees or says something implicating the government in wrong-doing. Her suspicious public disappearance, which has caught the UN’s attention, is another reason to boycott.
The Olympics stand for something greater, not just sports and competition. They're about unifying many countries together as one to engage in sportsmanship and camaraderie and to celebrate true unity on Earth. How can countries like the US, which values freedom and justice for all, be expected to encourage these games to be held in a place that doesn't honor the rights of their own people? The US and every other country making a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics being held in Beijing are sending the strong message that they disapprove of China's actions.
The White House announced the United States would invoke a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing. This is evidently due to the Chinese Communist Party's repeated human rights abuses. While we can applaud the sentiment, this will essentially have zero impact.
Per China's state-run Global Times, 'China never plans to invite US and Western politicians who hype the boycott topic to attend the Games.' So, President Biden and other US diplomats will boycott an event they were not going to be invited to anyway. Although this does not punish any US athletes by barring them from competing, it could discourage some from competing.
Clearly, China has much to answer for. In recent years it has been criticized for its censorship of Chinese citizens, genocide against the Uighur Muslims, and oppression of freedom fighters in Hong Kong. And let's not forget China's poor record related to COVID and its origins. It has lied and been uncooperative in pursuit of the truth.
If the intent is to protest China's human rights abuses and pressure the Chinese Communist Party, get them where it will hurt—economically—not with a meaningless diplomatic boycott of the Olympics. Pressure should be put on American companies from doing business with Chinese business entities. And likewise, US defense contractors should be barred from also working with Chinese firms if they truly want to punish the CCP.
Unless or until the US is willing to take a much more forceful approach dealing with China's human rights abuses and its lack of openness regarding COVID, diplomatic boycotts will do nothing but arbitrarily anger or be ignored by the Chinese.