Canada and the UK join Australia and the US in Olympic diplomatic boycott

The diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympic Games by the US and Australia has been joined by the UK and Canada - but China has warned of counter-measures.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Source: AAP

Canada has joined Australia and the UK in a United States-led diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, saying it was important to send a clear message over China's human rights record.

The United States has said its government officials would boycott February's Beijing Olympics because of China's human rights "atrocities", weeks after talks aimed at easing tense relations between the world's two largest economies.

China said the United States would "pay a price" for its decision and warned of counter-measures but gave no details, while the International Olympic Committee (IOC) sought to play down the growing diplomatic boycott.


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Beijing would be aware of long-standing Western concerns about human rights in China.

"(So) it shouldn't be a surprise that we decided not to send diplomatic representation," he said. 

Almost as Mr Trudeau spoke on Wednesday, IOC President Thomas Bach said the Committee had always been concerned with the participation of the athletes in the Olympic Games.

So "we welcome the support for their Olympic teams all these governments have been emphasising," he told a video news conference.

"This is giving the athletes certainty and this is what the IOC is about."

Visitors look at the Big Air venue that will see competition in freestyle skiing and snowboarding for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Shougang.
Visitors look at the Big Air venue that will see competition in freestyle skiing and snowboarding for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Shougang. Source: Getty Images

Asked earlier in parliament if his country would follow Washington's lead, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "There will be effectively a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, no ministers are expected to attend and no officials."

"I do not think that sporting boycotts are sensible and that remains the policy of the government," he added, indicating that British athletes will still compete.

Earlier, Australian because of the country's struggles to re-open diplomatic channels with China to discuss alleged human rights abuses in the far western region of Xinjiang and Beijing's moves against Australian imports.

Announcing the plans, Mr Morrison said Beijing had not responded to several issues raised by Canberra, including the rights abuse accusations.

China has denied any wrongdoing in Xinjiang and said allegations are fabricated.

Its foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a daily briefing in Beijing that Australian politicians were engaged in "political posturing".

"Whether they come or not, nobody cares," he added.

The Australian Olympic Committee said the boycott would have no impact on athletes' preparations for the Games, which run from 4 to 20 February, adding that "diplomatic options" were a matter for governments.

Other US allies have been slow to commit to joining the boycott, though Japan is considering not sending cabinet members to the Games, the Sankei Shimbun daily said on Wednesday, citing unidentified government sources.

3 min read
Published 9 December 2021 at 6:54am
Source: AAP, SBS