The US is ‘not focused on a boycott’ of the 2022 Olympics in China amid human rights concerns, Blinken says

Beijing
A Chinese flag flutters in front of the IOC headquarters during a protest by activists of the International Tibet Network against the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics on February 3, 2021 in Lausanne.

  • The United States is “not focused” on boycotting the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
  • Calls for nations, including the US, to boycott next year’s games are growing.
  • Tensions are rising between the US, its allies, and China over allegations of human rights violations in the country’s Xinjiang region.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The United States is “not focused on a boycott” of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing despite its concerns over human rights abuses committed by the Chinese government, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday.

Calls for the US and other nations to boycott next year’s games are growing amid continued allegations of human rights abuse by the Chinese government in the country’s Xinjiang region.

Much of Blinken’s interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday was focused on China, including its role in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and its relationship with Taiwan. But Blinken said the US wasn’t ready to resort to boycotting the winter games.

“This is a year or so before the Olympics. We’re not focused on a boycott,” Blinken told “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd. “What we are focused on is talking, consulting closely with our allies and partners, listening to them, listening to concerns.”

China, meanwhile, has threatened countries against boycotting the games, and has said that a US boycott of the Olympics would be met with a “robust Chinese response.”

“The politicization of sports will damage the spirit of the Olympic Charter and the interests of athletes from all countries,” said Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry. “The international community, including the US Olympic Committee, will not accept it.”

As Insider previously reported, the US has been in talks with its allies over whether they should boycott the Olympics, slated to begin February 2022, due to the alleged human rights abuses in China. Human rights groups have alleged the Chinese government has forced minority groups – particularly over a million Uyghur Muslims – into detention camps in the Xinjiang region.

China has repeatedly denied such claims. The US and its allies this year imposed sanctions on China. Blinken previously accused the Chinese government of committing “genocide and crimes against humanity”

“We need to be able to bring the world together in speaking with one voice in condemning what has taken place and what continues to take place,” he said Sunday. “We need to take actually concrete actions to make sure, for example, that none of our companies are providing China with things that they can use to repress populations, including the Uyghur population.”

But the US must ensure it was dealing and acting with all of its “interests and values” in mind, Blinken said.

“And when it comes to China, we have to be able to deal with China on areas where those interests are implicated and require working with China, even as we stand resolutely against egregious violations of human rights or in this case, acts of genocide,” he added.

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The US is talking to allies about boycotting 2022 Beijing Olympics over genocide against Uyghurs in Xinjiang

Beijing
A Chinese flag flutters in front of the IOC headquarters during a protest by activists of the International Tibet Network against the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics on Februay 3, 2021 in Lausanne.

  • The US and its allies are discussing a possible boycott of the 2020 Beijing Olympics.
  • “It is something that we certainly wish to discuss,” the State Department said on Tuesday.
  • China is facing growing backlash over what’s widely considered to be genocide against the Uyghurs.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The US is considering a joint boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing over the Chinese government’s human rights abuses, the US State Department said Tuesday.

“It is something that we certainly wish to discuss,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. “A coordinated approach will not only be in our interest but also in the interest of our allies and partners.”

“This is one of the issues that is on the agenda, both now and going forward,” Price added, making clear that a final decision has not been made.

In a later statement to Yahoo Sports, an unnamed State Department official stressed that no such talks have yet taken place. “We have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners,” the official said.

The US government has been ramping up criticism of and pressure on the Chinese government over human rights violations, which led to a public spat between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and China’s top diplomat in Alaska last month.

The Biden administration in late March slapped new sanctions on Chinese officials over what the Treasury Department described as serious human-rights abuse against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang. The EU, the UK, and Canada – in coordination with the US – have also hit China with sanctions over its treatment of the Uyghurs.

Human rights groups say the Chinese government has forced over a million Uyghur Muslims and other minorities into detention camps in the Xinjiang region, though Beijing has vehemently denied the allegations.

Blinken has said what’s happening to the Uyghurs amounts to genocide, while calling on China to release “all those arbitrarily held in internment camps and detention facilities.”

There have been growing calls for countries and companies to boycott the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

Human rights lawyer Djaouida Siaci told Axios that a boycott could open the door for the International Criminal Court to begin an investigation into the allegations of genocide in Xinjiang.

GOP Sen. Mitt Romney in a New York Times op-ed last month said the US should engage in a diplomatic and economic boycott of the 2020 Beijing Olympics.

“Prohibiting our athletes from competing in China is the easy, but wrong, answer. Our athletes have trained their entire lives for this competition and have primed their abilities to peak in 2022,” Romney said.

“The right answer is an economic and diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics. American spectators – other than families of our athletes and coaches – should stay at home, preventing us from contributing to the enormous revenues the Chinese Communist Party will raise from hotels, meals and tickets,” Romney added. “American corporations that routinely send large groups of their customers and associates to the Games should send them to U.S. venues instead.”

The last time the US boycotted the Olympics was during the 1980 summer games in Moscow.

The US Olympic Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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