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US mulls diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

Rights groups call on Biden administration to boycott games over China’s continued human rights abuses

President Biden. (AP photo)

President Biden. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — President Joe Biden on Thursday (Nov. 18) said the U.S. is considering a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

With a diplomatic boycott, U.S. athletes would still take part in the games, but an official delegation of American government officials would not be present, according to CNBC. “It’s something we’re considering,” Biden told the press at the White House on Thursday, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Human-rights groups have been calling on the Biden administration to boycott the games over China’s continued human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims and its crackdown on pro-democracy figures in Hong Kong, per The Wall Street Journal.

A possible diplomatic boycott has been in consideration for months, with the State Department raising the idea in April. A State Department spokesman at the time said Washington was in discussions with important allies over ways to protest China’s human rights abuses at the Games, CNBC said.

In May, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also called for a diplomatic boycott of the games, which will start in February 2022 in Beijing. The Wall Street Journal also mentioned that several Republican lawmakers have also supported a diplomatic boycott, while some, like Senator Tom Cotton have called for a complete boycott, including U.S. athletes.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to comment on a possible diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics or what such a move would involve, The Wall Street Journal said.

Biden’s comments came days after a virtual summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Monday (Nov. 15), in which both countries discussed a range of issues, but failed to deliver on any concrete results.