Australian officials will not attend the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed on Dec. 8, joining the United States in a diplomatic boycott.
Morrison told reporters in Sydney that it was “not surprising” that Australian government officials will not be attending the Games, citing human rights abuses against Uyghur minorities and “many other issues that Australia has consistently raised.”
“I’m doing it because it’s in Australia’s national interest. It’s the right thing to do,” Morrison said.
Morrison also said that Australia remained open to a dialogue with China, but the Chinese government “has consistently not accepted those opportunities for us to meet about those issues.”
However, athletes will continue to participate in the Games, Morrison said.
“Australia’s a great sporting nation and I very much separate the issues of sport and these other political issues,” Morrison said.
On Dec. 6, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a press briefing that the U.S. will not send an official delegation to the Games, citing human rights abuses in China, but will allow athletes to participate.
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said in a statement that the diplomatic boycott does not affect the arrangements for the Australian teams.
“The AOC respects the fact that diplomatic options are a matter for government and that politics and sport should be separated,” AOC stated.
“Human rights are extremely important, but the considered view of diplomats is that keeping channels of communication open is far more impactful than shutting them down,” AOC Chief Executive Matt Carroll said.
Carroll said that AOC is “very focused” on getting its athletes to Beijing safely, as well as bringing them home safely.
AOC added that it expects to send about 40 athletes to the Games next year.
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