U.S. turns cold shoulder to China ahead of Beijing Winter Olympic Games

Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 9:51 AM EST

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The United States has turned a cold shoulder ahead of the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing. The Biden administration recently announced it would not send diplomats to the games amid heightened tensions between the two countries.

“Team USA have our full support. We will be behind them 100 percent as we cheer from home. We will not be contributing to the fanfare of the games,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

The boycott is a slight to the host nation, but is it just a meaningless gesture?

“The message is that Washington is not happy with the state of the relationship, and not happy with a lot of Chinese policies,” said Dr. Timothy Heath, an expert from the RAND Corporation.

Dr. Heath said human rights abuses against the Muslim Uyghur people in Xinjiang province, and other human rights and political issues forced President Biden’s hand. Heath said it is unclear whether this diplomatic maneuver will entice Chinese President Xi Jinping to change his policies, even as other western nations join the U.S in the diplomatic boycott.

“The Olympics in theory is meant to demonstrate a moment when people put aside politics to show sportsmanship, and here, even this event is getting politicized. I think that means in the future we can expect the Chinese to boycott high profile events in the U.S,” said Dr. Heath.

One question being floated is whether the Biden administration should take it a step further and pull athletes from the Games as well, as the U.S did for the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

Jerome Cohen from the Council on Foreign Relations said such a boycott would deprive athletes of their moment in the spotlight.

“It’s not enough of a blow to the regime whose conduct you’re protesting,” said Cohen.

So why choose the Olympics for this show of disdain? With the world’s eyes focused on Beijing, Cohen said this is a peaceful way for everyone to highlight the country’s actions, beyond the usual slapping of sanctions and stern rebukes.

“To keep silent and do nothing makes you complicit. We see this symbolic, not entirely effectual, refusal by the United States to participate and yet it’s worthwhile,” said Cohen.

Beijing has promised a firm response to the diplomatic boycott. The games are set to begin Feb. 4 and end Feb. 20, 2022.

Copyright 2021 Gray DC. All rights reserved.