The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Monday it respected the US government’s announcement of a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
“The presence of government officials and diplomats is a purely political decision for each government, which the IOC in its political neutrality fully respects,” an IOC spokesperson told AFP.
The diplomatic boycott is a calibrated rebuke of China’s human rights record that stops short of preventing US athletes from competing.
The decision comes after Washington spent months wrangling with what position to take on the Games, hosted in February next year by a country it accuses of perpetrating “genocide” against Uyghur Muslims in the northwestern Xinjiang region.
There was no immediate reaction from Beijing, but earlier on Monday the Chinese foreign ministry had threatened “resolute countermeasures” if any such boycott were implemented.
The IOC said the US government’s announcement had made it “clear that the Olympic Games and the participation of the athletes are beyond politics and we welcome this”.
“The support for the athletes and the Olympic Games has been expressed multiple times in the recent months, most recently by the United Nations resolution entitled ‘Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal’.”
The IOC said the resolution had been adopted by consensus of all 193 member states and co-sponsored by 173 member states at last week’s UN General Assembly.
It calls for the observance of the Olympic Truce for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Beijing 2022, from seven days before the start of the Olympic Games, on February 4, 2022, until seven days after the end of the Paralympic Games.
The resolution also “calls upon all member states to cooperate with the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee in their efforts to use sport as a tool to promote peace, dialogue and reconciliation in areas of conflict during and beyond the period of the Olympic and Paralympic Games”.
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