The Biden administration has announced a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday that the administration “will not send any diplomatic or official representation” to the Winter Games because of China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses.”
A diplomatic boycott means that no U.S. officials will attend any Beijing Olympics events, but Team USA athletes will still be allowed to participate.
“The athletes on Team USA have our full support,” Psaki said. “We will be behind them 100% as we cheer them on from home.”
However, she said, “we will not be contributing to the fanfare of the Games.”
U.S. President Joe Biden said last month he was considering a diplomatic boycott because of criticism of China’s human rights abuses, including the detention of Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang province and the crackdown on pro-democracy forces in Hong Kong.
Before the White House announcement Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused U.S. lawmakers who have been pressuring Biden for a diplomatic boycott of the Games of “grandstanding.” He told reporters in Beijing that China would take “countermeasures” if Washington were to go through with the boycott.
The Beijing Winter Games will run from February 4 to 20.
The U.S. diplomatic boycott avoids a repeat of 1980, when then-President Jimmy Carter kept U.S. athletes from attending the Moscow Summer Games because of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in late 1979.