Biden says he's 'considering' a diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics

President BidenJoe BidenPharma lobby eyes parliamentarian Demand for US workers reaches historic high Biden to award Medal of Honor to three soldiers who fought in Iraq, Afghanistan: report MORE said Thursday he’s weighing a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

“It’s something we are considering,” Biden said in the Oval Office when asked by a reporter about the prospects of a diplomatic boycott ahead of a bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin TrudeauJustin Pierre James TrudeauCanada announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics Mexico compares Biden electric car tax credits to Trump's tariff threat Canadian senator dies after being hospitalized for COVID-19 MORE.

Biden on Thursday hosted Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, with the North American Leaders’ Summit set for later in the day.

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Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have called on Biden to consider a diplomatic boycott as a way to push back on China’s human rights abuses. Such a boycott could mean Biden and other U.S. officials do not attend the Beijing Games but the U.S. still sends its athletes. 

The president spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday, but the White House has said the 2022 Olympics were not a part of their discussion.

Asked about the president’s latest comments, the White House said Biden has “serious concerns” about issues including human rights abuses in China.

“There are a range of factors where we look at what our presence will be," press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiBriahna Joy Gray discusses US's handling of COVID-19 testing Senate votes to nix Biden's vaccine mandate for businesses House passes bills to pressure China amid Olympic boycott MORE said.

When asked to define what a diplomatic boycott would look like, Psaki did not comment further.

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Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyBiden nominates Meg Whitman as ambassador to Kenya Most Utah voters say Trump should not run again in 2024: poll Romney praises Biden's boycott of Beijing Olympics MORE (R-Utah) called for a diplomatic boycott in March and the Senate in June passed an amendment, which he spearheaded, that would mandate one in light of China’s ongoing human rights abuses, including against the Uyghur ethnic minority. 

“In authoritarian states like China, the Olympics has more often been a tool of propaganda than a lever of reform. It is unacceptable for China to have the honor of hosting the Olympics while the Chinese Communist Party commits genocide against the Uyghur people,” Romney told The Hill in a statement this week.

Romney in an op-ed in March mentioned former President Carter’s decision to fully boycott the 1980 Moscow Games, arguing that, unlike then, U.S. athletes should be allowed to compete in Beijing.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse passes bills to pressure China amid Olympic boycott House passes bill to strengthen shipping supply chain Overnight Defense & National Security — Biden: US troops to Ukraine 'not on the table' MORE (D-Calif.) in May backed a diplomatic boycott, saying the U.S. “cannot proceed as if nothing is wrong about the Olympics going to China.”

“Here's what I propose ... is a diplomatic boycott. I don't know if it's possible, because we have not succeeded in the past. And I'm a big sports fan. I watch the Olympics in the middle of the night,” Pelosi said in remarks at a virtual hearing on China. 

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“And to see the discipline, the focus, the dedication of our young, of our athletes out there is just the sources of such pride. Let's honor them at home. Let's not honor the Chinese government by having heads of state go to China to show their support for their athletes,” she added.

Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonGOP senators introduce bill targeting Palestinian 'martyr payments' White House announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics Demand Justice launches ad campaign backing Biden nominee who drew GOP pushback MORE (R-Ark.) on Thursday called for Biden to implement a full boycott of the Winter Olympics, breaking with other lawmakers to call on U.S. athletes to not attend.

“For these reasons—the safety and security of our own athletes and China’s crimes against the world—we should launch a complete and total boycott of China’s genocide Olympics,” he said. 

He said he would sympathize with the athletes because they would be prevented from competing but “they’ve been failed by this administration who months ago, months ago, could have worked with our allies to develop a plan to conduct these games in another country.”

Updated at 3:32 p.m.