WASHINGTON – The State Department denied Tuesday evening that it was considering a joint boycott alongside allies of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. “Our position on the 2022 Olympics has not changed. We have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners,” a senior State Department official wrote in an emailed statement to CNBC.
Many have questioned the efficacy of Olympic boycotts since the superpower exchange of the early 1980s. Some pointed to the historic image of Jesse Owens, standing as a personal monument to human dignity and achievement in the heart of Nazi Germany. Others point to the normative effect hosting an Olympics had on South Korea as it transitioned from martial law to democracy.
Rights groups are calling for a boycott of Beijing 2022 to protest against Beijing’s continued persecution of the Uighur population in Xinjiang—a persecution the U.S. has labeled “genocide.” But while the Biden administration has sanctioned several Chinese officials and entities in response to the Xinjiang crisis, the White House hasn’t hinted that it might call for an Olympic boycott. Until recently.
When the former secretary of state in the Trump White House made a case Tuesday for the U.S. to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics set to be held in China, he had an easy comparison to make between the Biden administration’s behavior toward the communist giant and how it’s treated the American state of Georgia.
Noted East Asia scholar Perry Link once called China “the anaconda in the chandelier.” You wouldn’t knowingly let a snake into your home. Yet it got in. Or, rather, Procter & Gamble and other Olympic sponsors let it in. They unlocked your door and allowed it to crawl inside, and now you better check what’s coiled around your phone or that pair of shoes in your closet.
The White House reiterated that the Biden administration isn’t discussing a joint boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, noting that the United States is still planning to attend the event. The confirmation comes April 7, after the State Department initially said yesterday that it was discussing with allies whether to consider a potential joint boycott, before the department later backtracked.
An international treaty obliges signatories to punish a nation that perpetrates genocide. The question at the moment is whether Communist China – which the U.S. State Department, among others, has determined is genocidally repressing millions of Uyghur Muslims and others – will be rewarded for doing so?