The White House confirmed Monday the United States would play in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, despite the Chinese Communist Party’s long history of human rights violations and ongoing genocide against Muslims in the country.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced during the press briefing that the United States would send athletes and participate in the games.
“We believe U.S. athletes, people who have been training, giving up a lot of blood, sweat, and tears preparing for these Olympics should be able to go and compete, and we look forward to cheering for them from home,” she said.
Psaki said the United States had decided to level a “diplomatic boycott” of the Olympics to send a message to the world on China’s record of human rights violations. The “boycott” would mean Biden administration representatives would not attend the event. As diplomats do not participate in the Games, such a move would not in any way impact the Olympics.
“Not sending a U.S. delegation sends a clear message that we cannot conduct ourselves with business as usual,” Psaki spun. “We feel this sends a clear message.”
China has not publicly invited Biden or any officials to Beijing for the Games. The Global Times, a Chinese government newspaper, has repeatedly mocked the idea of a “diplomatic boycott,” most recently noting that such a boycott is impossible if China does not invite American diplomats.
“China never plans to invite US and Western politicians who hype the ‘boycott’ topic to attend the Games and experts said that their so-called boycott is nothing but self-deception,” an article in the Global Times read last month. “[I]n accordance with the Olympic rules, for politicians to attend the Games they must be invited by their own countries’ Olympic committees first and the final decision relies on the International Olympic Committee (IOC).”
On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian reiterated that the people in the Biden administration allegedly planning to “boycott” were not invited, so they could not reject the invitation.
“US politicians keep hyping a ‘diplomatic boycott’ without even being invited to the Games,” Zhao said. “This wishful thinking and pure grandstanding is aimed at political manipulation. It is a grave travesty of the spirit of the Olympic Charter, a blatant political provocation and a serious affront to the 1.4 billion Chinese people.”
Zhao threatened unspecified “measures” against the United States if Biden greenlit the diplomatic “boycott” idea.
Psaki did not clarify the uncertainty regarding how uninvited diplomats would boycott the event by not going.
Psaki did say the administration’s message to China was “clear enough” on human rights while still allowing athletes to compete.
“I don’t think that we felt it was the right step to penalize athletes who have been training, preparing for this moment and we felt we could send a clear enough message by not sending an official U.S. delegation,” she said.
Biden decided to send athletes to China despite Republican calls for a full boycott of the Games.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) called for a total boycott of the games in a November press conference, with “no athletes, no administration officials, no corporate sponsors.”
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley criticized Biden’s announcement on social media, calling it a “joke.”
“A diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics is a joke,” she wrote. “China doesn’t care if Biden and Team show up. They want our athletes.”