Australia Mulls Beijing Winter Olympics Unofficial Boycott

Australian politicians from both major parties have urged the government to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics next year in China, as concern grows for the welfare of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, who accused former Chinese vice-premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault then went missing for several weeks.

However, the government said it would await the decision by the Biden administration before it makes a call on whether to sign up for a diplomatic boycott, with its preference to make any move in conjunction with other like-minded countries, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

“A decision on [Australia’s] representation at the Beijing Winter Olympics is yet to be made,” a spokesperson for Sports Minister Richard Colbeck said.

Early this month, US President Joe Biden confirmed his administration was considering a diplomatic boycott, in protest of China’s human rights record, including in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and Tibet. 

The United Kingdom and Canada were also weighing up their positions.

A diplomatic boycott meant not sending a delegation of officials to the Winter Olympics but allowing athletes to participate.

Meanwhile, the Chef de Mission for Australia’s Winter Olympic team in Beijing, Geoff Lipshut, said government officials must continue to publicly back the nation’s athletes regardless of whether a diplomatic boycott comes into effect.

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