Biden administration not discussing boycott of Beijing Olympics: White House

Biden press secretary Jen Psaki answers reporters' questions at the White House
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The Biden administration is not discussing a potential boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday, walking back a suggestion from the State Department the day prior.

“Our position on the 2022 Olympics has not changed. We have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners,” Psaki said Wednesday.

“We of course consult closely with allies and partners at all levels to define our common concerns and establish a shared approach but there is no discussion underway of a change in our plans regarding the Beijing Olympics from the United States’ point of view,” she said.

A State Department spokesman indicated in an exchange with reporters Tuesday that the U.S. was discussing whether to skip the Olympics in Beijing as part of a boycott with allies.

“It is something that we certainly wish to discuss and that it is certainly something that we understand that a coordinated approach will be not only in our interests but also in the interests of our allies and partners,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters Tuesday. “So this is one of the issues that is on the agenda both now and going forward, and when we have something to announce, we will be sure to do that.”

Price sought to clarify the remarks later, tweeting that the Biden administration has no announcement regarding the 2022 Olympics “but we will continue to consult closely with allies and partners to define our common concerns and establish our shared approach to the [People’s Republic of China].”

Some Republicans have called on the Biden administration to boycott the Winter Olympics in Beijing over China’s repression of Uighurs and crackdown on rights in Hong Kong. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) called for an “economic and diplomatic boycott” of the 2022 Olympics in a New York Times op-ed last month.

“American spectators — other than families of our athletes and coaches — should stay at home, preventing us from contributing to the enormous revenues the Chinese Communist Party will raise from hotels, meals and tickets. American corporations that routinely send large groups of their customers and associates to the Games should send them to U.S. venues instead,” Romney wrote.

The Biden administration has sharply criticized China for what it has deemed unacceptable behavior; top Biden officials confronted their Chinese counterparts on a range of issues during a testy first meeting in Anchorage last month.

Still, Psaki’s remarks Wednesday made clear that boycotting the Olympics is not under discussion as part of the administration’s approach to China. She also said that officials were hopeful that the games could have American and other attendees, but she noted the administration will defer to health experts given the coronavirus pandemic.

“Certainly, our hope is that we are at a point where enough people across the country and hopefully around the world have been vaccinated, but we will rely on health and medical experts on that particular piece,” Psaki said.

Tags 2020 Olympics Beijing Olympics biden administration Boycott Jen Psaki Mitt Romney Press secretary White House

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