Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that his country would not send government officials to the Winter Olympics in Beijing, China next year, following in the footsteps of the United States.
Morrison said on Wednesday that it would “come as no surprise that Australia will not be sending any official representatives to the forthcoming Winter Games in China,” citing alleged “human rights abuses in Xinjiang and many other issues that Australia has consistently raised.”
“We have been very pleased and very happy to talk to the Chinese Government about these issues and there’s been no obstacle to that occurring on our side,” he claimed. “But the Chinese government has consistently not accepted those opportunities for us to meet about these issues.”
The prime minister insisted, however, that while Australian officials would “therefore not be going to China” for the Olympic Games, Australian athletes would still be able to compete.
Morrison’s government follows in the footsteps of US President Joe Biden, whose administration also announced a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics on Monday.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the US would not send any official representation to the games in Beijing “given the PRC's ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses.”
“US diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the PRC's egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang, and we simply can't do that,” Psaki declared.
Chinese Embassy in Washington spokesperson Liu Pengyu called the move “pretentious,” “a political manipulation,” and “a grave distortion of the spirit of the Olympic Charter,” adding, “No invitation has been extended to US politicians whatsoever, so this ‘diplomatic boycott’ simply comes out of nowhere.”
“In fact, no one would care about whether these people come or not, and it has no impact whatsoever on the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics to be successfully held,” the spokesperson continued.
Chinese Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hua Chunying, made a similar statement emphasizing that US officials had not been invited, tweeting, “One can't decline an invitation without first receiving one.”
China Daily EU Bureau Chief Chen Weihua joked on social media that he would boycott the White House Christmas and New Year parties despite not receiving an invitation.