The United States on Tuesday said that it is looking to discuss with partners and allies how to proceed with participation in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, amid growing calls for a boycott of the Games over China’s human rights record.
Canada, too, has faced pressure for a boycott of the Games, especially because of China’s imprisonment of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, two Canadians seized in December 2018 in what’s widely believed to be retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who’s facing extradition to the United States.
Ned Price, a U.S. state department spokesperson, told reporters the possibility of a joint boycott is “something that we certainly wish to discuss.” Price said “a coordinated approach will be not only in our interests but also in the interests of our allies and partners.”
He later clarified that he was referring to the U.S. having a coordinated approach rather than saying the United States was specifically discussing a joint boycott. In a Tuesday afternoon tweet, Price said “we don’t have any announcement regarding the Beijing Olympics.”
The United States has sanctioned top Chinese officials for their participation in the genocide of the Uyghurs, an ethnic Muslim minority. Wang Junzheng, the Secretary of the Party Committee of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps and Chen Mingguo, Director of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau, were sanctioned on March 22.
“(The U.S. Department of the Treasury) is committed to promoting accountability for the Chinese government’s human rights abuses, including arbitrary detention and torture, against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities,” Andrea M. Gacki, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in a statement.
Majority of Canadians think Canada should boycott Beijing Olympics: poll
Campaign launched in Canada to move 2022 Winter Olympics from Beijing over human rights abuses
On February 22, Canada’s parliament declared the Chinese treatment of the Uyghurs a genocide. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet abstained from the vote.
The Canadian government has passed decisions about the possibility of a games boycott — the Beijing Olympics begin on Feb. 4, 2022 — to the Canadian Olympic Committee.
“The decision on whether or not to participate in Olympic and Paralympic games lies with the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees as they operate independently of the government,” Camille Gagné-Raynauld, a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau, told the National Post in February.
The Conservatives’ foreign affairs critic, Michael Chong, has said that a boycott should be an option.
Canada last boycotted an Olympic Games in 1980, when they were held in Moscow. Canada and the United States boycotted the Games in response to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.
In late February, the White House said it had not made a final decision on whether the United States would take part in the 2022 Winter Olympics in China and would look for guidance from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which had no comment.
Florida Sen. Rick Scott has been urging President Joe Biden to push for the Olympics to be relocated to the United States.
“If Biden truly stands for human rights, he will immediately begin this process by offering to host the games in the United States and providing the necessary federal resources to get this done,” Scott said in a Tuesday statement.
With additional reporting by Reuters
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: tylerrdawson