Beijing's diplomatic boycott of Winter Olympics explained

The United States announced this week a diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics in February, a move which was quickly followed ...


The United States announced this week a diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics in February, a move which was quickly followed by Australia, Great Britain and Canada.

Diplomacy is Byzantine in nature, and sometimes also secret. We will try to get to the bottom of what this all means.

Those who remember the 1980s may think that an Olympic boycott means countries stay home, athletes and all. But the US diplomatic boycott will only prevent government officials from attending. Typically, high-ranking officials from many countries attend the Games, which are among the largest international gatherings outside of the United Nations and major summits.

Announcing the decision, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, cited “genocide and crimes against humanity” in Xinjiang, a region in northwestern China. The Chinese government has repressed harshly on Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in this region, including mass detentions and forced use of contraception and sterilizations.

Calls for an Olympic boycott intensified after Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis star, accused a former senior government official of sexually assaulting her. References to his accusation were quickly wiped out of the internet in China, and it disappeared from public view, prompting athletes and others across the world to post, “Where is Peng Shuai? ”Peng was then seen in several short videos shared by Chinese state media reporters on Twitter. The International Olympic Committee said he called her twice, but questions were raised about his freedom of speech.

The movement was widely supported. If anything, the criticism has come from Republicans who say the decision doesn’t go far enough. Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas said the United States “should totally boycott the Beijing Genocide Games”.

While hostility between nations may create uncomfortable moments for the U.S. delegation in Beijing, there should be no significant effects. American athletes are to travel to China and compete in their events as scheduled.

Some have. Evan Bates, an American ice dancer, said in October: “On behalf of all athletes, I can say that the human rights violations are appalling, and we all believe that it is tearing the fabric of humanity apart. He added, “My answer might apply to human rights in general, but if you ask what is happening in China regarding Muslims, it’s terrible, it’s terrible. Others echoed his feelings.

The International Olympic Committee has always firmly maintained that the Games are apolitical. As such, he has strict rules on the athletes demonstrating at the Games.

At this stage, no. Even top athletes who condemned human rights violations say they plan to compete in the Games.

In 2014, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Michelle Obama, the First Lady, all skipped the Sochi Olympics in Russia. France and Germany did not send senior officials either. Although it was not a full-fledged diplomatic boycott, the decision was considered a reproach repression of homosexual rights by Russia and was perhaps also motivated by the granting by Russia of the political asylum to Edward snowden, who leaked classified documents on US espionage.

The most significant boycott came in 1980, when more than 60 countries, led by the United States, boycotted the Summer Games in Moscow due to the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union the previous year. The boycott crippled the grounds of many Games events and also infuriated American athletes, many of whom lost their only chance to compete in the Olympics.

In 1984, the Soviet Union led more than a dozen countries in boycotting the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Although the reason given is security concerns, there is no doubt that this decision was essentially a retaliation for the boycott of 1980.

While a handful of nations had boycotted for various reasons in previous Games, the first major boycott of the Olympics came in 1976, when around 30 nations, mostly African, missed the Montreal Games. They argued that because a New Zealand rugby team had visited apartheid South Africa, New Zealand should be excluded from the Games.

In 1936, the Games went to Germany, then under the control of Hitler’s Nazi Party. Some sports officials and politicians, including Mayor Fiorello La Guardia of New York and Governor Al Smith of New York, advocated a boycott of the Games. But Olympic officials pushed hard against a boycott, with familiar arguments about separating politics and sport.

Avery Brundage, who was president of the US Olympic Committee, called the boycott plan a “Judeo-Communist conspiracy”. (He continued to lead the International Olympic Committee until 1972.)

Ultimately, US sports officials chose to send a team to Berlin in a close vote.

The boycott of the Moscow Games does not appear to have an effect on Soviet foreign policy; the country’s troops remained in Afghanistan until 1989.

An international consensus seems to have emerged that massive boycotts that include athletes are ineffective and only serves to penalize athletes. Despite Senator Cotton, few Olympic or government officials seriously consider preventing athletes from attending the Beijing Games.

While boycotts don’t change policy, they run the risk of retaliation, as seen in 1984. Of course, Chen Weihua of China Daily, a state-owned media publication, called that China boycotts the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in 2028.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Beijing's diplomatic boycott of Winter Olympics explained
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