Report: Australia to Play Olympics but May Keep Politicians Home over Coronavirus, Not Genocide

PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 25: Team Australia walk in the Parade of Athletes during the Closing Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 25, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty

The U.K. Guardian newspaper reported on Tuesday that Australia may decide to keep politicians from attending the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics but brand it an effort to contain the Chinese coronavirus, not a statement against the Chinese Communist Party’s human rights abuses.

The move, the newspaper claimed – without sourcing the alleged information – would not include athletes, meaning Australia would not boycott the Winter Games and would expose its athletes to the same public health risks that it may claim are too high for politicians to endure.

The Guardian report follows news on Monday that the administration of President Joe Biden would keep American politicians from attending the Winter Olympics in Beijing but allow athletes to participate. The White House has attempted to brand this a “diplomatic boycott,” but the Chinese Communist Party has repeatedly noted that American diplomats have not been invited to the Games, nor did Beijing intend to invite them, and that politicians do not compete in the Olympics, so their absence has no impact on the event.

Human rights activists and groups that represent the persecuted in China have spent the past year advocating for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) not to reward the Chinese Communist Party with the honor of hosting a session of the Olympic Games. Among the various atrocities Chinese people are currently enduring are the ongoing genocide of the Uyghur people of East Turkistan, the cultural genocide of Tibetans in the occupied region, extreme repression of pro-democracy dissidents in Hong Kong, and the decades-long violent attacks on “illegal” religions – faithful who do not pray at Party-run places of worship.

Adding to the pressure last month was the abrupt disappearance of Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion Peng Shuai, one of the biggest tennis stars in Chinese history. Peng accused a former senior communist official – Zhang Gaoli, the former head of the Chinese Olympic Committee  – of raping her before engaging in a long-term extramarital affair with him. Peng posted the accusations on Weibo, a Chinese-controlled social media site, and vanished almost as rapidly as her post did.

An activist stands past Tibetan flags as he joins a protest by members the local Hong Kong, Tibetan and Uyghur communities in Melbourne on June 23, 2021, calling on the Australian government to boycott the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics over China’s human rights record. ( WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty)

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) withdrew from China as a result of Peng’s disappearance and athletes around the world have expressed fear at the possibility of performing in China in light of the scandal. The IOC defended China, however, insisting that its leaders had spoken to Peng and that she is “fine.”

The Guardian reported that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison may in practice follow Biden’s withdrawal of uninvited politicians from the Games, but cite “Covid [Chinese coronavirus] restrictions as a reason for officials to stay away from the Beijing Winter Olympics.”

“Guardian Australia understands while an announcement could be made soon, the government is unlikely to take as strong a position as the Biden administration, which blasted China over ‘ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity,'” the newspaper reported, without explaining how it came to “understand” the information. “The Australian government was still considering the language to be used, with suggestions that it may not be presented as a boycott.”

“Instead, it is weighing up saying officials will not go because Covid restrictions meant they would mostly be confined to their hotel rooms,” the newspaper asserted.

If taken, this stance would mirror New Zealand’s, not America’s. The far-left government of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Tuesday that it would not send cabinet members to the Beijing Olympics, but insisted it would not describe its move as a “boycott.”

“There was a range of factors but mostly to do with COVID, and the fact that the logistics of travel and so on around COVID are not conducive to that kind of trip,” Sport Minister Grant Robertson said.

“We are already not attending diplomatic level as it were … Normally, the news Olympic Committee will get some support on the ground from people, logistical support largely,” he explained. “My understanding is that that is likely but beyond that, no.”

Protesters hold up placards and banners as they attend a demonstration in Sydney on June 23, 2021 to call on the Australian government to boycott the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics over China’s human rights record. (SAEED KHAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Robertson claimed that the New Zealand leftists had “made clear to China” their “concerns” about the atrocities the Communist Party is committing against its people, but did not elaborate on what that looks like.

New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed that it had “sought accreditation” for its diplomats already stationed in Beijing to go to the Games.

New Zealand has enacted some of the world’s most brutal measures to allegedly contain the Chinese coronavirus. Ardern has admitted publicly that her administration seeks to create a second-class citizen status for individuals who do not receive a Chinese coronavirus vaccine.

In Australia, the Morrison government has insisted that it is considering withdrawing politicians from the athletic event.

“To be clear, the matter is under active consideration,” Employment Minister Stuart Robert said on Tuesday when reporters asked about Biden green-lighting American participation. Morrison himself has also used the word “considering” regarding a diplomatic “boycott” of the Games.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry dismissed the possibility of mounting diplomatic non-boycotts in light of Biden’s move, stating on Tuesday that “no one would care whether these people come or not” because they are not athletes and have no responsibilities at the Olympics.

“It has no impact whatsoever on the Olympics to be successfully held by Beijing,” spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters, asserting that American diplomats were “not even invited.”

 

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