News & Politics

White House Announces Diplomatic Boycott of Genocide Olympics

(AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati, File)

The White House announced a long-anticipated diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics, citing China’s continuing oppression of their Uyghur minority, as well as the suppression of the people of Hong Kong and threats against Taiwan.

China called the move an “outright political provocation” and promised retaliation.

“U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the PRC’s egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang, and we simply can’t do that,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told a daily press briefing.

“The athletes on Team USA have our full support,” Psaki added. “We will be behind them 100% as we cheer them on from home.”

The Chinese embassy in the U.S. called the move “political manipulation” since no invitations had been sent to U.S. officials.

“In fact, no one would care about whether these people come or not, and it has no impact whatsoever on the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics to be successfully held,” an embassy spokesman said.

Some Republicans decried the move as too little too late.

Associated Press:

Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, however, said the diplomatic boycott amounted to a “half measure.” American officials, including Biden, have criticized Beijing for human rights abuses against Uyghurs in northwest Xinjiang province, suppression of democratic protests in Hong Kong, military aggression against the self-ruled island of Taiwan and more. President Donald Trump’s administration in its final days declared the abuses in northwest China “genocide.”

“The United States should fully boycott the Genocide Games in Beijing,” Cotton said. “American businesses should not financially support the Chinese Communist Party and we must not expose Team USA to the dangers of a repugnant authoritarian regime that disappears its own athletes.”

“The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them,” said a confident Lenin. Indeed, there will be no boycott of Olympic games where many tens of millions of dollars have been invested by American and multinational corporations to exploit the powerful symbolism associated with the games.

Related: Boycott Beijing Olympics: It’s More Appalling Than Ever to Reward Chinese Communists

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which took place this summer due to the pandemic, led to sponsorship deals worth $3 billion. Nobody is going to cancel anything.

In 2014, NBC paid $7.75 billion to have exclusive broadcast rights of the Olympic games in the U.S. until 2032. With that kind of money at stake, it is principle be damned and full speed ahead.

Psaki would not comment whether Biden weighed pulling athletes from the games — many of whom have been training for years for the moment to compete on the global stage. In 1980, in the midst of the Cold War, Jimmy Carter kept U.S. athletes home from the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

“I don’t think that we felt it was the right step to penalize athletes who have been training and preparing for this moment, and we felt that we could send a clear message by not sending an official U.S. delegation,” Psaki said.

The image of the lonely long-distance cross-country skiers training by themselves in the snows of Montana or Alaska while working full time to support their families doesn’t fit anymore. Each national sports organization identified many of these athletes long ago and has subsidized their training for years thanks to more billions spent by U.S. corporations.

The effort the athletes put in is real and should be admired, but the notion that the athletes are free agents and shouldn’t be subject to the vagaries of politics growing out of the Olympics doesn’t reflect reality.

Nobody is saying the part about losing the financial investment of powerful corporations out loud. So the athletes are trotted out and held up as innocent victims of international politics. They are as much a part of Olympic show business as the dancing kids at the opening and closing ceremonies.

Meanwhile, the Uyghurs are working in forced labor conditions, Hong Kong democrats languish in jail, and Taiwan awaits the day when Beijing will “peacefully reunite” China as they’ve long promised.

But the show must go on.