Australia considers diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics, report says

Performers chat near a Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games sign, ahead of an event marking the 100-day countdown to the Games opening, at the National Swimming Center in Beijing, China on 24 November 2021. REUTERS / Thomas Suen

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SYDNEY, Nov. 25 (Reuters) – Australia is considering not sending government officials to the Winter Olympics in Beijing next year following calls from lawmakers for an official diplomatic boycott, said Thursday the Sydney Morning Herald in a report.

Australian politicians from the ruling Liberal-National coalition and the opposition Labor Party are urging the federal government to boycott the event, which will take place in February, the newspaper reported without citing a source.

“A decision on (Australia’s) representation at the Beijing Winter Olympics has yet to be made,” a spokesperson for Sports Minister Richard Colbeck said in an email response. Australia’s Foreign Office did not respond to a request for comment.

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China strongly opposes the politicization of the Olympics, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a briefing on Thursday. Boycott attempts will not succeed, he added.

Amid U.S. concerns over China’s human rights record, President Joe Biden said last week that the United States was considering a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics. Read more

A diplomatic boycott would mean not sending a delegation of officials, but allowing athletes to participate.

Britain has not made any decision on who will represent its government at the Olympics, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson does not support the idea of ​​boycotts, his spokesman said earlier this week. Read more

The Australian government will wait for the Biden administration’s decision before making any commitment to a diplomatic boycott, according to the Sydney Morning Herald report.

The United States and Britain are Australia’s allies, and the countries entered into a security partnership in September to help Australia build nuclear submarines. The trilateral deal has annoyed China, the main rising power in the Indo-Pacific region.

Australia’s relations with China, its biggest trading partner, have deteriorated after it banned Huawei Technologies Co Ltd from its 5G broadband network in 2018 and called for an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19. Beijing responded by imposing tariffs on several Australian products.

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Reporting by Renju Jose; Additional reporting by Yew Lun Tian; Editing by Marguerita Choy, Michael Perry and Barbara Lewis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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