Australia responds to US diplomatic boycott of Winter Olympics

·3-min read
Pictured left is Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the right.
Scott Morrison's government is considering following the USA's lead with a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics. Pic: Getty

Australia's federal government could be set to follow America's lead by joining in a diplomatic boycott of next year's Beijing Winter Olympics.

The USA this week announced that it will not send any government officials to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, in protest against China's human rights record.

'WE ALL KNOW': Ash Barty speaks out amid Peng Shuai controversy

HUGE: Aussie snowboarder's engagement to billionaire F1 heiress

President Joe Biden's government has hit out at China, citing reports of genocide against minority Muslims in its western region of Xinjiang.

"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," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told a daily press briefing.

"US 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."

The diplomatic boycott has been encouraged by some members of the US Congress for months.

Seen here, US President Joe Biden and Chinese Xi Jinping.
Joe Biden and the United States will not send any government officials to the Beijing Winter Olympics. Image: Getty

It is only a boycott for diplomatic purposes and will not affect the attendance of American athletes.

"The athletes on Team USA have our full support," Psaki said.

"We will be behind them 100 per cent as we cheer them on from home."

Australia's federal MPs have now urged the government to follow the USA's lead, with Employment Minister Stuart Robert telling reporters on Tuesday that a diplomatic boycott was "under active consideration" by the government.

Liberal senator Eric Abetz, who also chairs the upper house foreign affairs, defence and trade legislation committee, has called for Australian officials not to attend the games.

"I trust other freedom-loving countries like Australia will also make a stance in solidarity," the Tasmanian senator told ABC Radio on Tuesday.

"Taking a stand with a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics is the right way to go, so I'm absolutely delighted Joe Biden's administration has taken the lead."

Senator Abetz said he was not concerned about potential blowback from China should Australia also decide to go ahead with a diplomatic boycott.

Australia taking boycott decision seriously

Despite China already launching several export bans on Australian goods, Senator Abetz said Australia should take a principled stand, regardless of further economic or diplomatic fallout.

"One never knows what the response of the belligerent dictatorship will be in China," he said.

"But we have taken a stand on the basis of what is right in principle, and not what the consequences might be."

Senator Abetz said the government was taking the call for a diplomatic boycott seriously.

However, Australian athletes should still be able to compete at the Olympics, noting athlete participation was a matter for the International Olympic Committee, he added.

But Nationals senator Matt Canavan has gone a step further and is advocating for an athletes boycott.

"The treatment of sportspeople within China has to raise the question of whether we should be engaging in sporting activities with such a government," he told Sky News.

Senator Canavan's comments come after the disappearance of tennis player Pen Shuai, who has not been seen for several weeks after she accused China's former vice-premier of sexually assaulting her.

The Women's Tennis Association has suspended all of its tournaments in China as a result.

Independent South Australian senator Rex Patrick welcomed the US decision to implement the diplomatic boycott.

"It would be morally wrong for the Australian government to extend any measure of official endorsement to the Chinese Communist regime," he said.

"The Australian government needs to be particularly clear about the Chinese Communist Party's responsibility for genocide."

with AAP

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting