As more countries decide to skip official representation at Beijing Winter Games 2022, China lashes out, censors word ‘boycott’

Tibetan activists stand in front of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters during a protest ahead of the February's Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. (Photo courtesy: Fabrice Conffrini/The Star)

(, Dec09’21) – Britain, Canada, and Scotland too have decided, after the US and Australia, to absent their officials from Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 as a way to register their serious human rights concerns. China has censored the word “boycott” and lashed out at them for politicizing the Games.

The American-led diplomatic boycott of the Games is absurd on face value, as no invitations have been extended by China. How could you boycott something to which you were not invited? railed China’s official Xinhua news agency Dec 9.

But this has not prevented China from getting very angry, with the report saying their move was sure to cast shame on themselves. “But make no mistake: the Olympic Games is an event for athletes across the world, not politicians,” it said.

And the word “boycott” appeared to have been banned in online searches in China, said the Dec 9.

In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Dec 8 that no ministers will attend due to reports of human rights abuses in China. Canada followed suit later in the day, also citing human rights concerns.

Mr Johnson announced his decision after telling his country’s MPs that he typically did not support “sporting boycotts”.

In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters that Canada’s boycott will not “come as a surprise to China”.

“We have been very clear over the past many years of our deep concerns around human rights violations.”

Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has said that, despite the growing number of political boycotts, the IOC was pleased that athletes would still be able to take part.

He has further said, “The presence of government officials is a political decision for each government so the principle of IOC neutrality applies.”

The Xinhua report said that a “diplomatic boycott” though rare was not new. In 2014, heads of state from America and several other western countries stayed away from the Sochi Winter Olympics over alleged human rights abuses and geopolitical disputes, it said, referring to the city in Russia, the only country outside China to criticize the current boycott campaign.

This also suggested, of course, that China is not going to be the first country to suffer the ignominy of facing a diplomatic boycott of the Olympic Games, for this dishonour already belonged to Russia.


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