Sydney, Australia, Dec 8 (EFE).- Australia will not send official representatives to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Wednesday, joining a formal boycott of the Games.
“It’s the right thing to do,” he told reporters in Sydney.
It follows the same decision made by the United States on Monday over human rights “atrocities” in China.
Morrison also cited human rights as one of the reasons for Canberra’s boycott, as well as China’s unavailability to talk amid a diplomatic freeze.
“We have been … very happy to talk to the Chinese government about these issues and there has been no obstacle to that occurring on our side,” he said, according to national broadcaster ABC. “But the Chinese government has consistently not accepted those opportunities for us to meet about those issues.”
“So it’s not surprising therefore that Australian government officials would not be going to China for those Games.”
Australia will, however, send athletes to the Olympics over Feb. 4-20, as Morrison said the country is “a great sporting nation and I very much separate the issues of sport and these other political issues.”
White House spokesperson Jen Psaki on Monday said Washington’s decision is due to “the PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses” in China.
The US also has not prohibited the participation of its athletes, which would have meant a full boycott, because it does not want to penalize athletes who have been training for the Games for years.
Despite China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Tuesday saying the US delegation wasn’t invited anyway, he added that Beijing had lodged “stern representations” with Washington and it “will pay a price.”
New Zealand said on Tuesday that it will not send any ministerial representation to the Games, citing “a range of factors but mostly to do with Covid.”
Other countries such as Germany and Japan are yet to decide whether they will join the diplomatic boycott, while Russia has called for governments not to mix sports with politics. EFE