UK Joins Diplomatic Boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics
8th December 2021
Last modified on January 25th, 2022
It follows the USA and others in not sending an official government delegation due to China’s alleged record on human rights. All GB athletes will be taking part.
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, made the announcement in a parliamentary statement.
He said that he usually did not back sporting boycotts.
The calls for a boycott cite repression by the Chinese government against Uyghur Muslims and minorities in Tibet, plus the clampdown on democracy in Hong Kong.
It follows the news from the White House earlier this week that the USA would not be sending government officials to the Games.
Other countries, including Canada, Australia and New Zealand, have also announced diplomatic boycotts.
The Beijing Winter Games are due to take place from 4th to 20th February 2022, with the Paralympics from 4th to 13th March 2022.
The Prime Minister made the announcement in the Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions after the former Conservative leader, Iain Duncan Smith, called for a “diplomatic boycott” of the Winter Olympics.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith has been repeatedly calling for a boycott.
He is among the co-chairs of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, with politicians from 16 countries and two representatives from the European Parliament.
He has accused China of being “dictatorial, aggressive and intolerant”.
In March, he was one of five MPs on whom China imposed sanctions for spreading ‘lies and disinformation’.
Sir Iain responded by saying he would wear the sanctions as a badge of honour.
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The International Olympic Committee has always said it remains neutral and will not get involved in politics.
The president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, said that despite the growing number of political boycotts he was pleased the athletes would be taking part in the Winter Olympics.
“The presence of government officials is a political decision for each government so the principle of IOC neutrality applies,” he said.
“If we were to start to take political sides, we would never get the 205 or 206 National Olympic Committees to the Games – this would be the politicisation of the Olympic Games and this would be the end of the Olympic Games,” said Bach.
China denies it is guilty of human rights abuses.