The United States will not send a diplomatic delegation to the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing. President Joe Biden announced the news on Monday through White House press secretary Jen Psaki but also said he will support the athletes who are competing in the Olympics and Paralympics starting on Feb. 4.
"The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games given [China's] ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses," Psaki said Monday, per NBC Sports. "The athletes on Team USA have our full support. We will be behind them 100 percent as we cheer them on from home. We will not be contributing to the fanfare of the Games. U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these Games as business as usual in the face of [China's] egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang, and we simply can't do that."
United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee Sarah Hirshland released a statement about the boycott. "We greatly appreciate the unwavering support of the President and his administration and we know they will be cheering us on from home this winter," it read. "Competing on behalf of the United States is an honor and a privilege, and Team USA is excited and ready to make the nation proud."
This comes after Biden said he was considering boycotting the Olympics last month. The last time there was a U.S.-led boycott of the Olympics was in 1980 when then-President Jimmy Carter prevented athletes from competing in the Summy Olympics in Moscow. At the time, the U.S. was protesting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
"I don't think that we felt it was the right step to penalize athletes who have been training and preparing for this moment, and we felt that we could send a clear message by not sending an official U.S. delegation," Psaki said. Before the decision was made, International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound said it would unlikely make much of an impact.
"That's a way that governments can signal their disapproval of whatever the particular Chinese policies may be — whether it makes any difference to the Chinese is anybody's guess. I would say, basically, no," Pound told POLITICO on Friday. "Kind of by default, everyone's backing into a position that the athletes will go, the games will go on and the relationships with China will take their course."