Joe Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki announced Monday that the U.S. won’t boycott the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics over the country’s atrocities against the Uyghur population.
Instead, she said, the Biden administration won’t send an official delegation to the games “to send a message” that “egregious human rights abuses and atrocities” won’t be tolerated.
“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,” Psaki told reporters at a White House briefing.
“We have a fundamental commitment to promoting human rights. And we feel strongly in our position and we will continue to take actions to advance human rights in China and beyond.”
When asked by reporters if Biden would consider barring athletes from participating in the Beijing games, Psaki said the athletes will still participate.
“I’m not going to get into additional considerations. All I can convey to you is where we landed and the decision that was made and why,” Psaki said.
“Everybody can call it whatever they want to call it. I would just remind you that, often when you use ‘diplomatic boycott,’ that phrase, that brings people back to 1980. And we are not — the athletes will be participating. We will be rooting for the athletes at home.”
“But I think this is just an indication that it cannot be business as usual — that not sending a diplomatic delegation sends that message,” she added.
Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley slammed Biden’s decision not to send a delegation as “a joke” because China doesn’t care about Biden or his administration.
“A diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics is a joke. China doesn’t care if Biden and Team show up. They want our athletes,” Haley said.
A diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics is a joke. China doesn’t care if Biden and Team show up. They want our athletes.
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) December 6, 2021
Nevertheless, the move compelled China to save face, with Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian warning the CCP would retaliate with “countermeasures” if Biden doesn’t send a delegation.
“Without being invited, American politicians keep hyping the so-called diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, which is purely wishful thinking and grandstanding,” Zhao told reporters. “If the U.S. side is bent on going its own way, China will take firm countermeasures.”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who previously called on a “total boycott” of the Beijing Olympics over China’s releasing COVID upon the world and its human rights abuses against the Uyghurs, called Biden’s decision a “half measure” that won’t affect China.
“Today, the Biden administration announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games. The President has once again opted for a half measure, when bold leadership was required,” Cotton said in a statement.
Watch the full WH briefing: