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Biden says US considering diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics

Biden says US considering diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics
November 19, 2021 Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is considering a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics, President Joe Biden confirmed on Thursday.

"Something we're considering," Biden said when asked if a diplomatic boycott was under consideration as he sat down for a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

A diplomatic boycott would mean that US officials would not attend the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February. Activists and members of Congress from both parties have been pressing the Biden administration to diplomatically boycott the event.

kesperson Jen Psaki told a regular briefing on Thursday that US consideration of a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics was driven by concerns about human rights practices in Xinjiang province.

"There are areas that we do have concerns: human rights abuses," Psaki told reporters. "We have serious concerns."

"Certainly there are a range of factors as we look at what our presence would be," she said, while declining to provide a timeline for a decision.

"I want to leave the president the space to make decisions," she said.

Sources with knowledge of the administration's thinking have told Reuters there was a growing consensus within the White House that it should keep US officials away from the Games.

Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was talking to countries around the world about "how they're thinking about participation," but left a deadline for a decision unclear.

A bipartisan group of US senators in October proposed an amendment to an annual defense policy bill that would prohibit the US State Department from spending federal funds to "support or facilitate" the attendance of US government employees at the Games.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also called for a diplomatic boycott, saying global leaders who attend would lose their moral authority.

Some Republican lawmakers have been calling for a complete boycott of the Olympics.

Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas told a news conference on Thursday that a diplomatic boycott would be "too little, too late" and said no US athletes, officials, or US corporate sponsors should take part.