Congressional lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have differing opinions on President Joe Biden’s decision to issue a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China. The Biden Administration said while it wholeheartedly supports Team USA, it will not be sending any representation.
“We will not be contributing to the fanfare of the games,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of what the U.S. views as egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang.”
Impacts of boycotts
Before the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, Russia, then-President Jimmy Carter called for a total boycott of the games.
“I have notified the Olympic Committee with Soviet invading forces in Afghanistan, neither the American people nor I will support sending an Olympic team to Moscow,” President Carter said during a speech.
Historians view that boycott as unsuccessful because it did not impact the war in Afghanistan and no U.S. athletes competed. In turn, Soviet athletes dominated those games.
For years later at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California, the Soviet Union retaliated.
What can a diplomatic boycott accomplish?
Here are three things the U.S. diplomatic boycott has accomplished so far:
1. The U.S. humiliated China on the world stage. China reacted when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of People’s Republic of China spokesperson Zhao Lijian said. “No one cares if they come or not, and it has no influence on Beijing’s success in hosting the Winter Olympics.”
2. At least three U.S. allies, the U.K., Australia, and Canada, have also announced diplomatic boycotts. “We will not be sending any diplomatic representation,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
3. U.S. athletes chosen to represent Team USA can still compete.
Lawmakers take on the diplomatic boycott
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) headed the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Romney supports President Biden’s decision to not withhold Team USA athletes from participating. In an interview with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC, Romney said it’s “Too great of a burden to put on the shoulders of these young people.”
He insists the boycott is about putting an international spotlight on China’s wrongdoing.
“I think it’s important for the world, particularly the people in our country, to understand better what’s going on in China,” Romney said. “And to know the outrage which is being perpetrated upon the Chinese citizens by the Chinese Communist Party.”
“We should just boycott the Olympics,” said Rep. Carlos Jimenez (R-FL). “The things that the Chinese are doing to their own people Uyghurs minorities is barbaric.”
“I don’t think it goes far enough,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said. I agree with it, but I don’t think we should oversell the impact of a diplomatic boycott. What China really wants is our athletes. They really want the TV coverage.”