U.S. Is ‘Considering’ a Diplomatic Boycott of the Beijing Olympics, Biden Says


WASHINGTON — President Biden mentioned on Thursday that the United States was contemplating a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, as strain grows to carry China accountable for human rights abuses.

A boycott would imply that authorities officers wouldn’t attend the Games, that are slated to start in February, although it could not stop U.S. athletes from competing.

As he met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada at the White House, Mr. Biden responded to a reporter’s query about the potential for a diplomatic boycott by saying it was “something we are considering.”

The remark got here days after a digital assembly between Mr. Biden and China’s chief, Xi Jinping, that was meant to stop rising tensions from turning into a broader battle. While Mr. Xi warned the administration towards supporting Taiwan, Mr. Biden raised considerations about abuses in the Xinjiang area, Tibet and Hong Kong, in accordance with a White House assertion.

Abuses towards the Uyghur neighborhood, in addition to a crackdown on free speech in Hong Kong, have prompted calls from about 180 human rights organizations and members of Congress to make use of the Olympics as a chance to carry China accountable. But whereas some see a diplomatic boycott as a solution to ship a message with out punishing U.S. athletes, others questioned the effectiveness of withholding a authorities delegation when public consideration is on the athletic competitors.

“Whether we want it or not, the Olympics in Beijing are going to happen,” mentioned Frédéric Mégret, a co-director of the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism at McGill University and a world human rights lawyer. “The question is: Do you want to give the Chinese government photo ops?”

Bipartisan assist for a boycott of some sort has steadily elevated. Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California this 12 months referred to as for the president to withhold a U.S. delegation from attending, though she has mentioned that athletes ought to be capable of compete. Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, referred to as on Thursday for a whole boycott of the Beijing Games.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken advised The New York Times final week that the United States was discussing with allies “how they’re thinking about participation” in the Olympics. “It’s an active conversation,” he mentioned. Governments in Canada and Europe have additionally confronted strain to boycott the Games.

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, which would want to log off on any full boycott, has made clear that it doesn’t assist a boycott that will stop American athletes from competing in Beijing.

“They have been shown to negatively impact athletes while not effectively addressing global issues,” Kate Hartman, a spokeswoman for the committee, mentioned of boycotts. “We believe that the more effective course of action is for the governments of the world and China to engage directly on human rights and geopolitical issues.” She didn’t reply to a follow-up query on what type of engagement the committee would favor.

Mr. Biden and Mr. Xi didn’t focus on the Beijing Olympics once they met on Monday, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, mentioned on Thursday.

But she acknowledged that “we do have concern,” noting the human rights abuses. Ms. Psaki didn’t reply to an electronic mail asking whether or not the president had made a choice about the Games.

The final time the United States totally boycotted the Olympics was in 1980, when President Jimmy Carter rallied towards permitting athletes to take part in the Summer Games in Moscow to protest the Soviet Union’s army presence in Afghanistan. The transfer is extensively thought to be producing few tangible outcomes whereas offering Russia with ample speaking factors.

“It was seen as a propaganda victory for the Soviets at the time,” Mr. Mégret mentioned. “It was seen as mostly punishing U.S. athletes and not really having any effect on the Soviet Union.”

Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, echoed that sentiment this 12 months. The senator, who ran the committee that organized the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, wrote a New York Times Op-Ed calling for an financial and diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Olympics quite stopping athletes from competing.

Limiting a boycott to authorities officers could be a solution to ship a message to the leaders of the host nation whereas additionally permitting athletes to compete and protest oppression on the international stage, historians mentioned.

After Russia handed anti-L.G.B.T.Q. laws in 2013, President Barack Obama included three homosexual athletes in a U.S. delegation to the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

One of the extra well-known scenes in Olympic historical past was in 1968, when the sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists in a image of Black energy.

“Regimes have a history of treating their hosts of the Olympics with an international seal of approval for whatever they’re doing,” mentioned John Soares, a historical past professor at Notre Dame who has written about the Olympics. “Critics of a regime’s human rights record or other aspects of their policy say you don’t want to supply that seal of approval.”