Chinese performers dance during a ceremony to mark the arrival of the Olympic flag and start of the flag tour for the Winter Olympic Games Beijing 2022. Photo: AP
UPDATED 8:20 AM PT – Tuesday, December 7, 2021
Joe Biden took a small swipe at China’s soft power. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced the U.S. will not send any diplomatic or official representation to Beijing during the 2022 Winter Olympics. She claims the move stems from China’s genocide of Uyghur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang province. However, the Biden administration will allow America’s top athletes to compete.
“The athletes on Team USA have our full support, we will be behind them 100 percent as we cheer them on from home, but will not be contributing to the fanfare of the games,” Psaki stated. “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.”
U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price confirmed the partial boycott, adding regular diplomatic staff and security will remain in the country. He stressed the Biden administration will not send a special delegation that would celebrate the China-held games.
“We do intend to provide consular and diplomatic security services to ensure that our athletes, coaches, trainers, staff associated with the U.S. Olympic team, that they are secure,” said Price. “That they have access to American citizen services that we provide as a routine matter, of course, to all Americans overseas.”
The Chinese Communist Party fired back at the Biden administration denouncing the partial boycott as “grandstanding.” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Zhao Lijan warned the CCP will take firm countermeasures against America and begged the Biden administration to capitulate.
“Without being invited, American politicians keep hyping the so-called diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, which are purely wishful thinking and grandstanding,” said Lijan. “Political manipulation is a blatant insult of the spirit of the Olympic Charter and an outright political provocation.”
The Biden administration’s actions appear to be a compromise with Republican calls against a full boycott. Several GOP lawmakers, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) have warned Biden that boycotting American athletes would only hurt those who dedicate their lives to sport.
They pointed to former President Jimmy Carter’s pullout from the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow, which critics say did nothing to curb the Soviet Union’s occupation of Afghanistan. The USSR remained in the country for nearly a decade after the 1980 games.
“All it did was punish a generation of athletes,” said Cruz. “We’ve got young men and young woman Americans who spent their whole lives practicing for this moment. I don’t want to punish those young athletes.”
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle remain supportive of U.S. athletes dominating in the winter games.
“I really hope our young men and woman that they go over there and kick their commie asses, we need to win in the Olympics,” stated the Texas Republican.
In the meantime, it’s unclear whether the so-called diplomatic boycott will be an effective compellence strategy. The U.S. would need to be joined by several democratic nations who want to see China simmer their genocidal practices against the Uyghurs and aggressive behavior against Taiwan.