President Biden said on Thursday the United States was considering a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics amid mounting pressure to hold China accountable for human rights violations.
The boycott would mean no US government officials would attend the Games, which are expected to start in February, though it won’t stop US athletes from taking part.
During a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, Mr. Biden responded to a reporter’s question about the possibility of a diplomatic boycott by saying it was “something we are considering.”
The comment came after aggressive Republicans spent months calling on the government to use the Olympics as an opportunity to punish China for human rights violations. In a phone call this week with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Mr Biden expressed concern about abuses in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong, according to a White House statement, as well as Beijing’s economic policies that the government has sought to highlight. its foreign policy strategy.
But the two leaders did not discuss the Beijing Olympics earlier this week.
“They didn’t talk about the Olympics at the meeting,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday. “We see it through the prism of competition, not conflict, that’s our goal.”
But Ms Psaki acknowledged that “we are concerned”, pointing out the violations of human rights. “I want to leave room for the president to make decisions,” she said.
Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney, who headed the committee that organized the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, called in March for an economic and diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Olympics over China’s human rights violations against Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region and crackdown against protesters and journalists in Hong Kong. Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton called for a total boycott of the event on Thursday.
California speaker Nancy Pelosi also urged the president not to attend a US delegation, though she has said athletes should be able to compete.