The Biden administration is set to announce that neither the president nor any other U.S. government official will compete in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, according to a report.
Citing several sources familiar with the plans, The Washington Post reports that a diplomatic boycott is intended as a protest against human rights violations by the Chinese government without preventing American athletes from competing.
A formal recommendation has been made to President Joe Biden and he is expected to approve it before the end of November.
The timing of the announcement would not be linked to Monday night’s virtual meeting between Mr Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Information before the meeting suggested that Xi intended to bring up the Olympics during the meeting and even personally invite him to attend, but the matter was not discussed at the meeting according to a senior official. responsible for administration.
A reading from the White House virtual meeting reads: “President Biden has raised concerns about the [Peopleâs Republic of Chinaâs] in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong, as well as human rights in general.
There was no prior word from the administration on the possibility of a boycott. Human rights groups and activists have called for a total boycott of the athletes.
In May, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for a diplomatic boycott to protest China’s human rights record without punishing American athletes.
Senator Mitt Romney, who oversaw the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, also called for an economic and diplomatic boycott in a New York Times editorial in March, arguing that a full boycott would be counterproductive.
He cited President Jimmy Carter’s decision to boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics as giving the Soviet Union a propaganda victory.
It is unclear whether a US diplomatic boycott would result in similar action by Washington allies or whether the move would be unilateral.
When Beijing last hosted the Olympics in 2008, President George W Bush accepted an invitation to attend despite the Chinese crackdown in Tibet. As a sign of support for human rights causes, the previous year it hosted the Dalai Lama and awarded him the Congressional Gold Medal.
Both the Biden and Trump administrations have called the Chinese government’s abuses against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province an ongoing âgenocideâ.