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China: U.S. Diplomatic Boycott 'Violates the Principle of Political Neutrality'

After President Joe Biden's administration announced its diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics, China said the move “seriously violates the principle of political neutrality of sports established by the Olympic Charter and runs counter to the Olympic motto ‘more united,’” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters, per the Associated Press

Zhao further stated that it was “out of ideological prejudice and based on lies and rumors," adding that the country would respond with “resolute countermeasures." He did not provide details. 

“The U.S. will pay a price for its practices. You may stay tuned for follow-ups,” Zhao said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced the diplomatic boycott Monday, saying that it is a statement against China's "ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang." Athletes, however, can still compete. Psaki said Team USA will have the administration's full support.

"U.S. 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 said.

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But the United States is not the only country making this move. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Wednesday the country will join the diplomatic boycott due to human-rights concerns. Similarly to the U.S., Australian athletes will still be allowed to compete. 

“I’m doing it because it’s in Australia’s national interest,” Morrison said, per the AP. “It’s the right thing to do.” 

But in addition to the human-rights concerns, Morrison highlighted that China has been critical of its efforts to have a stronger defense, “particularly in relation, most recently, to our decision to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.”

The last time the U.S. did a complete boycott of the Olympics—including athlete participation—was at the 1980 Moscow Games, where 66 countries did not attend to protest the Soviet-Afghan War. The 2022 Games are slated to begin on Feb. 4.

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