Biden Administration Announces Diplomatic Boycott of Beijing Olympics

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 6, 2021

President Joe Biden speaks as he and first lady Jill Biden host the Kennedy Center Honorees Reception at the White House in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021. The 2021 Kennedy Center honorees include Motown Records creator Berry Gordy, “Saturday Night Live” mastermind Lorne Michaels, actress-singer Bette Midler, opera singer Justino Diaz and folk music legend Joni Mitchell. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

The administration for President Joe Biden announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing on Monday.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins first reported the decision.

The action doesn't constitute a full boycott, which would prohibit American athletes from competing in the quadrennial showcase. A diplomatic boycott means U.S. officials won't be in attendance to watch the events live and represent the country in China.

President Biden told reporters in November he was "considering" the step. Press secretary Jen Psaki added that discussions were ongoing as to how the administration might be represented.

In a March op-ed for the New York Times, Sen. Mitt Romney voiced his support for the idea.

The United States hasn't launched a full Olympic boycott since the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow. The step came after the Soviet Union didn't remove its troops stationed in Afghanistan.

With regard to China, the country has received criticism for its treatment of the Uyghur Muslim population and the ongoing crackdown in Hong Kong.

Collins provided additional context:

"Throughout the November summit, Biden and Xi engaged engaged in a 'healthy debate,' according to a senior Biden administration official present for the discussions. Biden raised concerns about human rights, Chinese aggression toward Taiwan and trade issues.
"Nearly every major issue Biden is focused on -- including addressing supply chain issues, climate change, North Korea and Iran -- has a nexus to China. And the two countries, which have the world's two largest economies, remain in disputes over trade, military aggression, global infrastructure, public health and human rights."

More recently, questions about the status of tennis player Peng Shuai have grown. Peng said on the Chinese social media platform Weibo that a former member of the Chinese government had sexually assaulted her. The post was removed and Peng subsequently left the public eye.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach spoke with Peng on a video call and said she was "safe and well, living at her home in Beijing but would like to have her privacy respected at this time."

However, the WTA remains concerned about Peng's status and suspended its events in China over doubts that Peng is "free, safe and not subject to censorship, coercion and intimidation."