Now Canada too: Diplomatic boycott at Olympics getting bigger

Now Canada too: Diplomatic boycott at Olympics getting bigger

Updated on December 8, 2021 at 8:03 pm

  • Canada, Great Britain and Australia are emulating the US and will not send official government officials to Beijing for the Winter Olympics.
  • What Germany does is open. There will be no federal president.

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Even as more and more Western countries are joining the diplomatic boycott of the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing in 2022, new chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has shown himself reluctant to answer the question. “The Olympic Games have always contributed to the coexistence of the world,” Scholz said on Wednesday after being elected as chancellor of TV broadcaster Welt. “We’ll make a decision when they come.” The new government is in talks with many others.

After the US, Canada, Great Britain and Australia also announced similar steps on Wednesday. “Canada is deeply disturbed by reports of human rights violations in China,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote via Twitter on Wednesday. It is “effectively a diplomatic boycott,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in parliament in London. “As I said earlier, we do not support boycotting the Games. But there are no plans for cabinet members to participate in the Winter Olympics,” Johnson said.

Athletes must participate in sports

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had earlier made a similar statement in Sydney. He said the decision was “not a surprise” to him. He cited several misunderstandings between Canberra and Beijing as the reason, including China’s criticism of Australia’s decision to buy nuclear-powered submarines. His government again condemned “human rights violations in Xinjiang and other issues”, but the Chinese government showed no willingness to speak. Australian athletes – like British athletes – should attend the Games in Beijing, Morrison insisted.

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China responded with heavy criticism of Down Under’s decision. “The Australian government blindly follows some countries so that it cannot differentiate between right and wrong,” Foreign Office spokesman Wang Wenbin said in Beijing on Wednesday. Australia violated the principle of political neutrality in the Olympic Charter. “Australia’s argument with the so-called human rights issue in Xinjiang is an excuse to defame China,” Wang Wenbin said, adding that China never had any plans to invite an Australian official to the Games. Nobody cares whether they come or not. No.”

IOC chief Thomas Bach stated that “the presence of government officials is a purely political decision for any government. The IOC principle of political neutrality applies to this decision as well.”

European politicians beer calls for a unified stance

Following the US push, European politician Nicola Beer (FDP) spoke out in favor of a complete boycott of the Winter Games. The EU must “not only live in the slipperiness of the United States, but stand up for the observance of human rights and speak out in favor of a complete boycott of the Winter Games,” said the EU Parliament’s deputy. Newspapers of “Funke Mediengruppe” (Wednesday).

The diplomatic boycott demanded by the United States is coming of late, the FDP politician said, and is “the lowest” that can be expected from the West. The February 2022 Winter Olympics in China are “a wrong stage in the wrong place”. Clear signals from the West in Beijing’s direction are long overdue, Beer said, referring to the “brutal repression of the Uighurs and Chinese aggression against Hong Kong and Taiwan”.

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CDU presidential candidate Friedrich Merz has also demanded such a move from the European Union. “The European Union should also take this decision. Athletes can participate in the Olympics, but the regime in Beijing will be politically isolated,” the politician told the news portal “T-Online” (Wednesday). The diplomatic boycott of the Games is justified due to the ongoing human rights violations in China.

SPD general secretary speaks out against the Klingbeel boycott

The top of the new traffic light government, made up of the SPD, the Greens and the FDP, has so far left it open whether they will join the boycott. SPD general secretary Lars Klingbeil opposed this. “No, this is something that I view with great suspicion that the Olympic Games are being boycotted,” Klingbeal told radio station FFN. In his view, major sporting events are always “an opportunity to signal significant social development in a targeted way”.

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is not flying for the Winter Games. “The federal president has no plans to visit Beijing,” said a spokesman for the federal president of ARD “Sportschau”. “These plans did not exist until the US announced its decision.”

The US on Monday announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games (February 4-22, 2022) in protest of human rights violations in China. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden’s administration would not send a diplomatic or official representative to Beijing. (DPA/FRA)

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