The United States has announced it will not be sending government officials to the 2022 Winter Olympics held in Beijing, citing the host nation's "ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses".
At a daily press briefing on Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki explained that the U.S. cannot "proceed with business as usual" through diplomatic representation given its fundamental commitment to promoting human rights.
She mentioned, though, that attendance of American athletes will not be affected and that the U.S would be 100 percent behind them as it cheers from home.
"I don't think that we felt it was it was the right step to penalize athletes who have been training, preparing for this moment, and we felt that we could send a clear message by by not sending an official U.S. delegation."
In response to the latest development, the International Olympic Committee said: "The presence of government officials and diplomats is a purely political decision for each government, which the IOC in its political neutrality fully respects."
The boycott comes after Beijing earlier warned Washington of unspecified "countermeasures" should the U.S. politicize sports and call for such action.
"What the U.S. should do is to correct its attitude, practice a more united Olympic spirit and take China's concerns seriously. Do not politicize sports and stop calling for the so-called diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, so as not to affect the dialogue and cooperation between China and the U.S. in important areas. If the U.S. insists in willfully clinging to its course, China will definitely take resolute countermeasures."
The United States is scheduled to host the Los Angeles Summer Olympics in 2028, raising concerns over possible retaliation from China.
Han Seong-woo, Arirang News.