The White House on Monday urged Americans to watch the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics despite having announced a “diplomatic boycott” of the event in December.
A “diplomatic boycott” is not a boycott – it would consist of a government sending athletes to the event, not government officials. However, the Biden administration failed to live up to even that meager promise, confirming less than a month after announcing the “diplomatic boycott” that it was sending diplomats to Beijing.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki appeared at the press briefing podium on Monday displaying a Team USA water bottle and pin, urging Americans to watch the Olympics.
Psaki repeated the claim that the United States chose not to send diplomats to Beijing for the Olympics to protest China’s record on human rights. China is currently engaging in genocide, slavery, and the harvesting of organs from political prisoners, among several other crimes against humanity.
“At the same time, we wanted to note Team USA has our full support, we’re behind them, we’re watching from home,” she said.
During the press briefing, Psaki thanked athletes and their families for “everything they sacrificed” to get to the games.
“Lots of athletes to watch, I’ll just give a plug, because I’m an Olympics obsessed person,” she said, previewing upcoming athletic performances by Olympic Figure Skater Nathan Chen, snowboarder Chloe Kim, and skier Mikaela Shiffrin.
“We’ll be watching our U.S. athletes even as we made a very important statement about our concerns about beings and the Chinese human rights abuses,” she continued.
When asked to react to China’s decision to have an Uyghur athlete light the Olympic flame, Psaki cited a comment from the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield on CNN who called the incident “an effort by the Chinese to distract us.”
UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield on China picking a Uyghur athlete to light the Olympic flame: "This is an effort by the Chinese to distract us from the real issue here at hand, that Uyghurs are being tortured." #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/lkrB0U0hXd
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) February 6, 2022
That athlete, cross-country skier Dinigeer Yilamujiang, has since disappeared after failing to show up for a media appearance following a poor performance this weekend.