Republicans who have called either for a boycott or for the Olympics to be moved out of Beijing have cited a U.S. designation made under former President Donald Trump that the Chinese government was perpetrating genocide against Uighur Muslims in its Xinjiang region.
Speaking to reporters about U.S. participation in the Beijing Olympics, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “There hasn’t been a final decision made on that and, of course, we would look for guidance from the U.S. Olympic Committee.”
Psaki on Feb. 3 had signaled that the United States had no plans to boycott the Beijing Olympics, saying at the time: “We’re not currently talking about changing our posture or our plans as it relates to the Beijing Olympics.”
The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said it had no comment on Psaki’s latest remarks, instead referring to a statement it issued on Feb. 3 opposing boycotts.
The USOPC’s earlier statement said, “We believe the more effective course of action is for the governments of the world and China to engage directly on human rights and geopolitical issues.”
Human rights groups have urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to take the Olympics out of China because of its treatment of Uighur Muslims along with other human rights concerns. China denies human rights abuses.
The last U.S. Olympic boycott came in 1980 when President Jimmy Carter refused to send American athletes to the Moscow Olympics amid Cold War tensions surrounding the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, seen as a potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate, on Thursday became the latest politician in her party to call for a boycott. Haley wrote on Twitter: “The United States should not glorify a country that is committing genocide against its own people and threatening the world.” Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw/Steve Keating; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Will Dunham, Tim Ahmann and Peter Graff