The White House maintains that no boycott is being discussed with international allies.
China, host of next year’s Winter Olympics, has warned the United States not to boycott the event as the Biden administration struggles to rally support to pressure Beijing over its record in human rights.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian rejected accusations of abuse against ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region, warning of an unspecified “robust Chinese response” to a possible boycott of the Olympics .
“The politicization of sport will harm the spirit of the Olympic Charter and the interests of athletes in all countries,” said Lijian. “The international community, including the American Olympic Committee, will not accept it.”
Following initial reports on the possibility of an Olympic boycott, White House press secretary Jen Psaki made it clear on Wednesday that such an option was not being discussed.
“We have not discussed, and are not discussing, a joint boycott with our allies and partners,” Psaki said.
The International Olympic Committee and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee have in the past said they oppose boycotts.
“At the USOPC, we oppose boycotting athletes because it has been shown to have a negative impact on athletes while not effectively addressing global issues in the past,” said Susanne Lyons, President of the Board of Directors of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
The committee does not wish to “downplay the serious human rights problems occurring in China,” but believes that diplomats and trade officials and other government officials are better equipped to address these concerns and that “Young athletes should be used as political pawns in these issues”.
‘Crime against humanity’
Human rights groups are mounting international pressure against China for hosting the games to draw attention to Beijing’s abuses against Uyghurs, Tibetans and Hong Kong residents.
At the end of March, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom joined the EU to take what they described as “Coordinated action” against China for sending “a clear message on human rights violations and abuses” in Xinjiang – a region populated by the Uyghur Muslim minority.
The sanctions blacklisted former and current officials in the Xinjiang region for alleged abuses, which sparked international outrage.
A week later, the US State Department released its 2020 human rights report accusing China of committing.genocide and crimes against humanity»Against Uyghur.
The United Nations has said more than one million Uyghurs and other Turkish-speaking majority-Muslim residents of the northwest region have been detained in a network of camps that China has called vocational training centers in recent years. .
China denied the allegations.
Rights groups said they had also been victims of other abuses, including restrictions on religious freedom, including to be forced to eat pork.