The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics will be held in February.© AFP
Australia is considering not sending any government officials to next year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing after lawmakers called for an official diplomatic boycott. Sydney Morning Herald said in a report on Thursday. Australian politicians from the ruling Liberal-National Coalition and the opposition Labor Party are urging the federal government to boycott the event, which will be held in February, the newspaper reported without citing a source. “A decision on (Australia’s) representation at the Beijing Winter Olympics is yet to be made,” a spokesman for Sports Minister Richard Kolbeck said in an emailed response.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs did not respond to a request for comment.
China strongly opposes the politicization of the Olympics, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a briefing on Thursday. He said boycott efforts would not be successful.
Against the backdrop of US concerns about China’s human rights record, President Joe Biden said last week that the United States was considering a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics.
A diplomatic boycott would involve not sending a delegation of officials, but allowing athletes to participate. Britain has not made a decision about who will represent its government at the Olympics, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson does not support the idea of a boycott, his spokesman said earlier this week.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Australian government would await a decision from the Biden administration before making any commitment to a diplomatic boycott.
The United States and Britain are both allies of Australia and in September the countries entered into a security partnership to help Australia build nuclear submarines.
The tripartite deal angered China, a major emerging power in the Indo-Pacific region. Australia’s relationship with China, its largest trading partner, 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 goods.
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