Should the U.S. Boycott the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics?
Do you support or oppose a boycott by the U.S. of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics?
- At a press briefing on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said of potential U.S. efforts to boycott the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, "We have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners."
What’s the story?
- The State Dept. signaled on Tuesday that it is considering a joint boycott with U.S. allies and partners of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing over the People’s Republic of China (PRC) human rights abuses against ethnic minorities, efforts to undermine democracy in Hong Kong, and belligerence toward Taiwan and other neighboring nations. The Beijing Winter Olympics are scheduled to begin on February 4, 2022.
- State Dept. Spokesman Ned Price said at a press conference that, “It is something that we certainly wish to discuss,” and that “a coordinated approach will not only be in our interest but also in the interest of our allies and partners. Price later tweeted the following statement:
“As I said, we don’t have any announcement regarding the Beijing Olympics. 2022 remains a ways off, but we will continue to consult with allies and partners to define our common concerns and establish our shared approach to the PRC.”
- Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently said, “China uses coercion and aggression to systematically erode autonomy in Hong Kong, undercut democracy in Taiwan, abuse human rights in Xinjiang and Tibet, and assert maritime claims in the South China Sea that violate international law.”
- Some congressional Republicans have signed onto several non-binding resolutions calling for the U.S. to boycott the Beijing Olympics, which would provide the Biden administration with a degree of bipartisan support if it proceeds with a boycott.
- The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) has expressed opposition to a boycott, with USOPC President Susanne Lyons saying the following at a press conference:
“While we would never want to minimize what is happening from a human rights perspective in China, we do not support an athlete boycott... We believe such boycotts have not been effective in the past, particularly in 1980. Those boycotts only hurt athletes who have trained their entire lives for this opportunity to represent their county.”
What happened in past Olympic boycotts?
- The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing aren’t the first time an Olympic boycott has been debated by U.S. politicians and the Olympic community, although there has only been one time that the U.S. followed through with a boycott.
- Moscow was slated to host the 1980 Summer Olympics just months after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979. President Jimmy Carter threatened to boycott the Summer Olympics unless the Soviet Union withdrew, which it did not do.
- While detractors argued the boycott wouldn’t result in the USSR withdrawing, the U.S. went ahead with the boycott and was joined by over 60 other countries. While the U.S., Japan, and West Germany engaged in a full boycott of the Moscow Olympics, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia allowed athletes to decide individually whether they would compete.
- Many of the athletes from nations that boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics competed at the “Liberty Bell Classic” which was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and financed by $10 million from Congress.
- In 1984, Los Angeles was the site of the Summer Olympics and the Soviet Union boycotted the games in retaliation, instead hosting the “Friendship Games” with Soviet athletes joined by competitors from North Korea and six other Eastern Bloc communist satellite nations.
— Eric Revell
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