New Zealand announced Tuesday it will not send representatives at the ministerial level to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, in February because the “logistics of travel” during the coronavirus pandemic “are not conducive” to such a trip, though Wellington said its diplomats may still attend the Games.
The leftist New Zealand government emphasized the pandemic – not widespread concerns about China’s rampant human rights atrocities – were behind the decision.
New Zealand Minister of Sport and Recreation Grant Robertson told reporters on December 7 that Wellington “had decided in October it would not send any Government ministers to the Winter Olympic Games, and China had been informed of this,” according to New Zealand’s Stuff news site.
Asked why Wellington chose to limit the number of attendants it will send to the Winter Games he replied, “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.”
Robertson referred to “Covid-19,” the name of the disease caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. “Covid-19” is also known as the Chinese coronavirus.
The sports minister said he would not call New Zealand’s stance on the 2022 Winter Olympics a “diplomatic boycott” because the country may still send diplomats to the Games. A “diplomatic boycott” is not a boycott, as diplomats do not participate in sporting competitions.
New Zealand will not be sending diplomatic representatives at a ministerial level to the Beijing Winter Olympics in February, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said, citing COVID-19 as the reason. More here: https://t.co/3oSQVbqpW3 pic.twitter.com/9IO9erlxeu
— Reuters Sports (@ReutersSports) December 7, 2021
New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued a statement on December 7 indicating it planned to send its ambassador to China, Clare Fearnley, to Beijing in February to attend the 2022 Winter Olympics.
“The New Zealand Olympic Committee has sought accreditation for a small number of Embassy staff, including the Ambassador [Fearnley], to provide consular support to the [athletic] team, should it be needed, as is standard practice for this kind of event,” the statement read.
“No decisions have been taken on attendance beyond this,” the New Zealand Foreign Ministry added.
New Zealand’s far-left prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, told reporters on November 6 she had wished Beijing “every success” in hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics during a November 5 phone call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
“I wished every success to China in hosting, highlighted again that whilst it wasn’t a general practice for ministers to attend the Winter Games, that we would be sending a team of New Zealand athletes and that we, if I recall my words, wish them every success for the successful hosting of those games,” Ardern said.
Beijing and Wellington have enjoyed positive relations since 2008 when New Zealand became the first developed country in the world to sign a free trade agreement with China.
According to the website of New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, “China is now New Zealand’s largest trading partner, with two-way trade valued at over NZ$28 billion [USD $18.9 billion] in 2018.”
“China is also New Zealand’s second-largest and fastest-growing tourism market, largest source of international students, and a significant source of foreign investment,” the ministry states.