The American government has announced that it will not be sending diplomats or official representatives to the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in China in protest at China's alleged treatment of minorities and the issue of Uighur genocide. Athletes from the United States will still compete in the Games.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the administration would send no diplomatic or official representation to the Games given China's "ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses." The move has been hailed by human rights groups as a strong message to Beijing.
However US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that the US could not and would not ask private companies to stop funding the Winter Olympics.
While human rights groups have welcomed the move by America, the International Olympics Comittee has distanced itself from the issue as it is wholly 'political' although it said that athletes being allowed to compete was a sign that politics and sports had been adequately separated.
Human Rights Watch called the Biden administration's decision "crucial" but urged more accountability "for those responsible for these crimes and justice for the survivors."
China has responded with warnings of "strong countermeasures" even as Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijang said that the Olympics was not a stage for "political posturing and manipulation". Coming just six months after the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Summer Games, the Winter Olympics will be held from February 4 to 20 in a "closed loop" bubble because of Covid-19 restrictions.