A journalist views an exhibition at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Exhibition Center in Yaqing District on February 5, 2021 in Beijing, China.
Kevin Frayer | Getty Images
Biden’s administration has yet to decide whether or not the US will boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022, the White House said Thursday, as pressure mounts to withdraw from the Games in protest at China’s behavior.
“A final decision has not yet been made and of course we would seek advice from the US Olympic Committee,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing when asked where President Joe Biden’s position was on the matter.
That reaction was a slight shift from earlier this month when Psaki signaled that the US would not change its plans to participate in the four-yearly Winter Games. “We are not currently talking about changing our attitudes or plans regarding the Beijing Olympics,” she said on February 3.
US Olympic and Paralympic Committee spokesman Jon Mason said in a statement to CNBC that the committee opposes boycotts “because they have been shown to negatively affect athletes without effectively addressing global issues.”
“We believe that the governments of the world and China must act more effectively to deal directly with human rights and geopolitical issues,” said Mason.
The games are scheduled to open on February 4, 2022.
A growing number of Republican politicians are urging Biden to boycott next year’s Games or move them from Beijing to the International Olympic Committee. They cite China’s reported treatment of Uighur Muslims in the northwest region of Xinjiang, which the Trump administration labeled genocide.
The critics also point to China’s record of the coronavirus pandemic, which is believed to have originated in the city of Wuhan. At least 506,500 people in the US and 2.5 million worldwide have died from the virus.
“To see the American flag and see American athletes in Beijing celebrating what is currently the worst of the worst authoritarian regimes – I can’t imagine that,” Florida GOP MP Mike Waltz told Fox News after telling a resolution aiming to draw the 2022 Olympics out of China.
A group of Republican senators tabled a similar resolution in early February and rights advocacy groups attacked the IOC for failing to address Beijing’s human rights abuses.
One Thursday morning, former United Nations Ambassador and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, said that China “is obviously more dangerous today than Nazi Germany in 1936.”
The US took part in this year’s Summer Olympics in Berlin – but Haley argues that the US would have boycotted those games if they “knew what Nazi Germany would become”.
“President Biden has to make the boycott decision. It shouldn’t be a difficult decision,” wrote Haley, who is widely reported to be considering a future presidential election.