Australia launch diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

Photo: Shutterstock|Anton Ivanov

Australia has joined the USA and announced a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing in protest of China’s human rights abuse in the far western province of Xinjiang.

The boycott means that Australia will not be sending any politicians or government officials including embassy staff. Australia is still expected to send around 40 athletes to compete in the Olympics in front of local Mainland China spectators that meet certain Covid criteria only. It is understood no Australian athletes intend to boycott the Games.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also flagged trade strikes against Australia and non communication from China with various Australian ministers as reasons for the boycott.

“The Chinese government has consistently not accepted opportunities for us to meet about these issues,” said the Prime Minister.

“Australia’s a great sporting nation and I very much separate the issues of sport and these other political issues. They’re issues between two governments.”

The Chinese Embassy was quick to refute the decision and issues flagged by the Prime Minister, releasing a statement that blame for the current “predicament of China Australia relations lies squarely on the Australian side.”

“Australia’s success at the Beijing Winter Olympics depends on the performance of Australian athletes, not on the attendance of Australian officials, and the political posturing by some Australian politicians,” revealed the embassy statement.

Members of the 2021 Olympic Games taskforce from Brisbane that includes members of the Queensland government and Brisbane City Council will still attend the games. However they will not be representing the Australian government or AOC.

The Labor Party’s Penny Wong believes that country’s diplomatic boycotts send a strong signal regarding ongoing human rights abuses in China including Uyghur genocide, as well as athlete safety. International tennis player Pen Shuai recently disappeared from public for two weeks after accusing a senior Chinese Official of sexual assault.

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Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.