The Australian government may not send diplomats to the Beijing Winter Olympics as it considers an unofficial boycott following concerns over the welfare of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai.
Lawmakers from Australia’s ruling Liberal-National coalition and the opposition Labor Party have urged Scott Morrison’s government to boycott the event to be held in February next year, and the federal government is considering the request, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The boycott demands come after Peng, a former world doubles doubles player, accused a senior Chinese Communist Party official of sexually assaulting her. A few days later, she disappeared from the public eye, sparking an international outcry.
So far, there has been no official confirmation on the status of Australia’s representation at the event. However, a spokesperson for the country’s sports ministry confirmed Reuters that the matter is under discussion.
“A decision on [Australia’s] representation at the Beijing Winter Olympics has yet to be made, ”said the email response from a spokesperson for Sports Minister Richard Colbeck.
Mr Colbeck and Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne are unlikely to participate in the Beijing Olympics, which will take place next February.
The Australian government is awaiting the decision of the Joe Biden administration on whether or not to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
There is the potential for a diplomatic boycott in protest against human rights violations by the Chinese government. A diplomatic boycott means that no government representative will be sent to the event, but athletes can still participate.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has previously opposed boycott calls, calling them “politicization” of the Olympics.
“I believe everyone will have seen her [Peng Shuai] recently attended public activities and also held a video call with the IOC President, [Thomas] Bach, ”Zhao said. “I hope some people stop doing the malicious hype, let alone politicizing.”
Peng, who alleged that she was forced to have sex with former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, 75, and was pushed into an extramarital affair with him before severing all contact with it, has been out of public view for weeks, causing concern. that she might be under duress.
Last Sunday, she reportedly had a video call with the IOC President and was seen publicly at a tennis event. However, this has not raised concerns among advocacy organizations and international athletes regarding Peng.