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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