Australia joins US in diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics

Australia has announced that it will join the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics next year, Reuters reported.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday that China has not made any attempts to respond to several issues raised by Australia, including alleged human rights abuses, the report said.

The diplomatic boycott will still allow Australian athletes to compete in the Olympics, he added, in a move similar to the U.S. 

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"It is not surprising, therefore, that Australian government officials would not be going to China for those games. Australian athletes will, though," Morrison said at a press conference.

"I'm doing it because it's in Australia's national interest," he said, according to the BBC. "It's the right thing to do."

The White House announced on Monday that the U.S. would not send diplomats to the games in Beijing over similar concerns about China's human rights record.

"The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic games given [China's] ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

"U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the [People's Republic of China]'s egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang, and we simply can't do that," she added.

The White House said on Monday that it informed allies of its decision but will not pressure other countries to boycott.

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A spokesperson for China's foreign ministry said on Tuesday that the U.S. will "pay the price" following the Biden administration's announcement of the diplomatic boycott.

Zhao Lijian accused the United States of acting "out of ideological prejudice and based on lies and rumors," according to The Associated Press.

This move comes amid heightened tensions between China and the U.S. over human rights concerns.