White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Monday that the U.S. will participate in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
President Joe Biden confirmed in November that he was “considering” a diplomatic boycott. The move does not extend to U.S. athletes, who will still be allowed to compete in the games.
“The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games, given the PRC’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses,” Psaki said. “The athletes on team USA have our full support. We will be behind them one hundred percent as we cheer them on from home.”
“We will not be contributing to the fanfare of the games. 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,” she continued. “As the president has told President Xi: Standing up for human rights is in the DNA of Americans. We have a fundamental commitment to promoting human rights and we feel strongly in our position and we will continue to take actions to advance human rights in China and beyond.”
A diplomatic boycott has garnered mixed reviews, with some lawmakers like Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz arguing a full boycott would be wrong for the athletes – a note that Psaki made on Monday. Others, like Republican Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, wanted “a complete and total boycott.”
Psaki declined to say whether a full boycott was ever under consideration and defended the diplomatic boycott as the right decision. She said the announcement sends the message “that it cannot be business as usual.”
“I don’t think that we felt it was that it was the right step to penalize athletes who have been training, preparing for this moment,” Psaki noted.
The diplomatic boycott comes just days after the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced it is pulling all tournaments from China over concerns surrounding Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai. Peng accused a top former Chinese official of sexual assault and the WTA has since said it’s unconvinced that she is free to speak without coercion. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: The Women’s Tennis Association Is Taking On China After Top Athlete Disappeared – But Players Want More)