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U.S. hasn’t discussed boycotting 2022 Beijing Olympics with allies, State Department says

The State Department clarified Tuesday that it has not discussed boycotting the 2022 Olympics, hosted in China, with allies as a protest of the country’s human rights abuses

Capital Institute hockey team players practice at the ice hockey venue for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics during a test event at the National Indoor Stadium in Beijing, Thursday, April 1, 2021.
Capital Institute hockey team players practice at the ice hockey venue for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics during a test event at the National Indoor Stadium in Beijing, Thursday, April 1, 2021.
Associated Press

The U.S. Department of State denied Tuesday that it and the country’s allies were discussing a joint boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics as a means of condemning China over human rights violations.

“Our position on the 2022 Olympics has not changed. We have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners,” a senior State Department official told CNBC in an email Tuesday.

The statement clarified comments earlier Tuesday from State Department spokesperson Ned Price, who “emphasized the importance of working closely with other countries, so that any step the U.S. takes would have more influence on Beijing,” Politico reported.

Price said at the earlier press conference that the State Department was “currently weighing different approaches to respond to the Chinese government, pointing to sanctions that the U.S. recently enacted with the U.K., Canada and the European Union over the human rights abuses,” according to Politico.

The games will go on, IOC says

Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, insists the IOC must remain “neutral,” according to The Associated Press.

  • “We are not a super-world government where the IOC could solve or even address issues for which not the U.N. Security Council, no G7, no G20 has solutions,” Bach said in a March news conference, the AP reported.
  • In the past, The IOC has touted its recognition by the United Nations as an “important enabler of sustainable development” and for its “power to spur social change.”

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney — former president of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics — has encouraged an “economic and diplomatic boycott,” but that American athletes should participate in next year’s winter games.

  • The Republican senator said, as a previous Olympic executive, that he “gained an understanding of the enormous sacrifice made by our Olympic hopefuls and their families. It would be unfair to ask a few hundred young American athletes to shoulder the burden of our disapproval,” Deseret News reported.
  • An “economic and diplomatic boycott” would prevent the U.S. “from contributing to the enormous revenues the Chinese Communist Party will raise from hotels, meals and tickets,” Romney said, according to Deseret News.

China responds

The Chinese government warned Wednesday that a boycott of the games would lead to a “robust Chinese response,” but was not anymore specific, according to The Associated Press.

  • “The politicization of sports will damage the spirit of the Olympic Charter and the interests of athletes from all countries,” said the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, the AP reported. “The international community including the U.S. Olympic Committee will not accept it.”
  • Zhao rejected allegations of Chinese government human rights abuses of ethic minorities, reported the AP.

The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics are scheduled to run from Feb. 4 to Feb. 20.