The United States said Tuesday it would discuss calls to boycott the Beijing Olympics with its allies after growing pressure to shun the Winter Games on human rights grounds.
“It is something that we certainly wish to discuss,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said when asked if the United States would consider a joint boycott with allies.
However he later reiterated that the United States does not “have any announcement regarding the Beijing Olympics,” writing on Twitter that “2022 remains a ways off, but we will continue to consult closely with allies and partners to define our common concerns and establish our shared approach.”
Activists and Republican politicians have increasingly called for a boycott of the Olympics in part over what rights monitors say is the mass incarceration and indoctrination of more than one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim people in the western region of Xinjiang.
“When it comes to our concerns with the government in Beijing, including Beijing’s egregious human rights violations – its conduct of genocide in the case of Xinjiang,” Price said, US action is “meaningful” but an effort that “brings along our allies and partners will have all the more influence with Beijing.”
“We understand that a coordinated approach will be not only in our interest but also in the interests of our allies and partners,” he added.
President Joe Biden’s administration has repeatedly kept the door open to boycotting the Olympics without announcing any firm direction.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki earlier said the administration will consult with the US Olympic Committee.
A potential boycott of the Beijing Olympics has increasingly become embroiled in US domestic politics with Republicans seeking to call Biden hypocritical for backing the moving of baseball’s All-Star Game from Georgia after the US state made voting more difficult for many people of color.
Former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, who after leaving office urged a boycott of the Olympics, wrote on Twitter: “If you live in mainland China, there’s no voter ID required because there’s no voting that takes place.”
China has denounced calls for a boycott and denies genocide, saying it is providing vocational training to minorities to reduce the allure of Islamic extremism.
The United States led a boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, with the Soviet bloc in retaliation boycotting the Summer Games in Los Angeles four years later.