Australia joins USA in diplomatic boycott of Winter Olympics

·3-min read
Seen left, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed that Australia will also stage a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics. Pic: Getty

Australia's federal government has confirmed that it's set to follow the USA's lead by joining a diplomatic boycott of next year's Beijing Winter Olympic Games.

The move comes after China issued a stern warning to America that it would "pay the price" for the decision not to send any government officials to Winter Games Beijing, in protest against China's human rights record.

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Australia's federal MPs on Tuesday urged the government to follow the USA's lead, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirming on Wednesday that it was standing with America in taking action against China.

Like the USA, Australian athletes will still be able to compete at the Games despite the diplomatic boycott.

The Prime Minister said the decision was made due to human rights abuses in China, and that Australia's stance on the issue was "not surprising".

It comes after President Joe Biden announced earlier this week the US would not send diplomatic officials to the Olympics, citing the Chinese government's ongoing genocide against minority Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang and other human rights abuse

The PM said while there would be a diplomatic boycott from Australia, athletes would still be attending the Beijing Olympics, which begin in February.

"People have been very aware that we have been raising a number of issues that have not been received well in China," Mr Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

"But the human rights abuses in Xinjiang and many other issues that Australia has consistently raised ... the Chinese government has consistently not accepted those opportunities for us to meet about these issues."

While the Chinese government has warned of further sanctions against nations that carry out a boycott of the Olympics, Mr Morrison said such a move would be unacceptable.

"There would be no grounds for that whatsoever," Mr Morrison aid.

"I'll always stand up for Australia's interests and what Australians believe is right, and we are living in an uncertain time."

The move comes after growing diplomatic tensions between Australia and China, with China undertaking large amounts of export bans on Australian goods.

China has been critical of Australia's alignment with the AUKUS alliance and the decision to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.

Mr Morrison said the Olympics would still be a "spectacular" sporting event.

China has warned the USA it will pay the price for a planned diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics. Pic: Getty
China has warned the USA it will pay the price for a planned diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics. Pic: Getty

Scrutiny over China's human rights record

The USA this week said its protest against China centred around what it described as "egregious human rights abuses and atrocities" in the region.

"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 this week.

"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.

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."

with AAP

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