WASHINGTON – The State Department announced Tuesday that the Biden government is in consultation with allies on a common approach to China and its human rights record, including how to deal with the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics.
The department initially suggested that an Olympic boycott in protest of China’s rights violations was one of the options, but a senior official later said the boycott had not been discussed.
The official said the U.S. position on the 2022 Games has not changed, but the government is in frequent contact with allies and partners about their shared concerns about China. Department spokesman Ned Price previously said the consultations would be held to present a unified front.
“Part of our review of these Olympics and our thinking will include close consultations with partners and allies around the world,” Price told reporters.
Human rights groups protest against China’s hosting of the Games, which are slated to begin in February 2022. They have called for a diplomatic or direct boycott of the event to raise awareness of alleged Chinese abuses against Uyghurs, Tibetans and Hong Kong residents.
Price declined to say when a decision could be made about the Olympics, but noted that it would be almost a year before the Games begin.
“These games are still some time away. I don’t want to set a timeframe, but these discussions are ongoing,” he said. “It is something that we certainly want to discuss, and it is certainly something that we understand, that a coordinated approach will be in the interests of not only our interests but also our allies and partners. So this is one of the issues that there is on the agenda, both now and in the future. “
The Beijing Winter Olympics will open on February 4, 2022, and China has dismissed all human rights abuse charges. It is said that “political motives” underlie the boycott efforts.
Rights groups met with the International Olympic Committee and learned that the Olympic Committee must remain politically “neutral”. The IOC has told them that China has given “assurances” of human rights conditions.
Both the IOC and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committees have declared in the past that they oppose boycotts.
In March, IOC President Thomas Bach said history shows that boycotts never make a difference. “It has no logic either,” he said. “Why should you punish athletes from your own country when you have an argument with a government from another country? It just doesn’t make any real sense.”
The USOPC has questioned the effectiveness of boycotts. “We oppose game boycotts because they have been shown to adversely affect athletes while they are ineffective in addressing global issues,” it said. “We believe that the governments of the world and China must act more effectively to deal directly with human rights and geopolitical issues.”