Australia, Canada, and the UK are the latest western countries who have followed suit of the US to join a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, the leaders of the three countries said on 8 December.
The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday that “We are extremely concerned by the repeated human rights violations by the Chinese government,” and added that “They should not be surprised that we will not be sending any diplomatic representation.”
Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister also confirmed that no British diplomats will be sent to the Games when pressed on the matter at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, although adding that he “does not think that sporting boycotts were sensible and that remains the policy of the government”. Australia was joined later in the day by the UK and Canada, announcing the disengagement of the government at the Games that is scheduled for next February.
Speaking at a press conference, Wang Wenbin, spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded that “China has never invited relevant countries” and reiterated that “sports should not be politicised”, urging western politicians to stop “political manipulation”.
The Biden administration first announced the boycott earlier this week due to concerns of China’s “egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang”, despite stating that “full support” from the government would be given to the US athletes.
China has repeatedly denied the accusation of human rights abuses against the Uyghur population and has warned its US counterpart of “firm countermeasures” to be followed should the US officially proceed with the boycott in an earlier response.
Amid the ongoing diplomatic boycott of the Games, Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has warned that “politicisation could threaten the future of the Olympics”, adding “this, I would think it further, could be the end of the Olympic Games as it was for the ancient Olympic Games.”
It is not clear yet if any more western countries will later join the boycott. The German foreign minister said on Thursday 9 December, that European countries “need to find a common response on the issue of a diplomatic boycott. Although the attendance of France’s sports minister Roxana Mărăcineanu has been confirmed by the country’s education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer whilst speaking to national TV channel BFM TV on Thursday.