United States-China tension is spilling into sports: The U.S. is considering a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
The potential boycott of the Winter Games could be in concert with other countries, though it is not immediately clear which ones. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken summarized America’s reasoning as it weighs its options.
“China uses coercion and aggression to systematically erode autonomy in Hong Kong, undercut democracy in Taiwan, abuse human rights in Xinjiang and Tibet, and assert maritime claims in the South China Sea that violate international law,” he said.
Olympic boycotts were once common.
- 18 countries boycotted the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, a response to the U.S.-led 66-country boycott of the 1980 Summer Games in the Soviet Union.
- 34 countries boycotted the 1976 Olympics in Canada after the nation allowed in New Zealand, despite its rugby team violating an International Olympic Committee ban on touring in South Africa, which was still under apartheid.
The Trump Administration launched a trade war against China, causing both nations to issue tariffs on the other, and blamed China for the spread of COVID-19. The Biden Administration recently sanctioned two Chinese officials over human rights abuses on the Uyghur population.
Japan is set to host the Summer Olympics, originally planned for 2020, starting in July. Those games, while not a platform for international tensions among superpowers, have dealt with a slew of issues around who will be able to attend, rising costs, and sexism among Japan’s Olympic Committee leadership.