U.S. announces diplomatic boycott of Winter Olympics in China over human rights abuses

The U.S. will not send an official delegation to the Winter Olympic Games in China early next year, the White House announced Monday, citing China’s human rights record.

The diplomatic boycott means that U.S. athletes are still permitted to compete in the games, which will start in Beijing in February.

“The athletes on Team USA have our full support. We will be behind them 100 percent, as we cheer them on from home,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki, but the administration didn’t think “it was the right step to penalize athletes who have been training, preparing for this moment.”

The Chinese government responded with swift condemnation of President Joe Biden’s decision, saying the Olympics shouldn’t be “a stage for political shows” and warning of “resolute countermeasures.”

The Biden administration has said that it will not send senior U.S. government officials because of China’s mass detention camps and forced sterilization campaign against Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in the country’s western province, policies that the U.S. government has determined constitute genocide and crimes against humanity.

The Biden administration has said it is consulting U.S. allies on a path forward, but so far, no other country has announced a similar diplomatic boycott. Psaki said the U.S. informed allies of the decision before announcing it.

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