Australia Joins US Diplomatic Boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

Australia Joins US Diplomatic Boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

Australia will not send officials to the Beijing Winter Olympics, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday, joining the US diplomatic boycott of the event and risking further deterioration in relations with China.
The United States announced its boycott on Monday, citing human rights “atrocities” in China, fueling anger in China, which warned of “resolute countermeasures” in response.

Morrison said Wednesday’s decision was due to Australia’s difficulties in reopening diplomatic channels with China to discuss alleged human rights violations in the far western region of Xinjiang and Beijing’s action against them. Australian imports.

“Australian government officials (will therefore not go) to China for these games. Australian athletes will, however, ”Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

The official boycott risks further straining Australia’s relations with China, its biggest trading partner, which deteriorated after Canberra introduced foreign interference laws, bans Huawei Technologies from its broad-based network 5G band and called for an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19. A recent decision to acquire nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS Pact has added to the tension.

Beijing had responded with tariffs on Australian products such as barley, beef, coal and wine.

Morrison said on Wednesday his government was very happy to discuss their differences with China.

“There has been no obstacle to this happening on our side, but the Chinese government still has not accepted these opportunities for us to meet on these issues,” he said.

Morrison said any further disruption to trade would be “completely and utterly unacceptable.”

The Winter Olympics begin in February of next year. The Australian Olympic Committee has said the diplomatic boycott will have no effect on the 40 expected Australian athletes expected to compete.

Andrew Woodward, former Sydney Olympics media advisor, told Al Jazeera that no one wanted to see an “athletic boycott of the Olympics.”

“Think about how the world came together for the Tokyo Olympics earlier this year and the joy that brought so many, many people,” he said. “There are certainly a lot of human rights issues in China to deal with, but overall it is better to separate sports and politics here. “

China has reacted with fury to Canberra’s move, saying no Australian officials have been invited to the Olympics and “no one would care whether they come or not.”

“The political positions taken and the hype by Australian politicians for their own political interests have no impact on the success of the Beijing Olympics,” said Wang Wenbin, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

He added that Australia “is blindly following certain countries in their efforts to confuse right and wrong with no net result”.

Other US allies were slow to commit to joining the boycott.

The UK is considering approving limited government participation in the event in the Chinese capital that would end ahead of a full diplomatic boycott, the Telegraph newspaper said on Wednesday.

An outright ban on ministerial and diplomatic representation at the Winter Games remains a possibility, he added.

Japan is also considering not sending cabinet members to the games, the Sankei Shimbun daily said on Wednesday, citing unidentified government sources.

In South Korea, however, an aide to President Moon Jae-in told the Yonhap News Agency that Seoul was not considering a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics.

New Zealand said earlier that its government officials would not participate, citing the coronavirus pandemic.


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