The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it respects the United States’ decision to diplomatically boycott the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics, while defending its “quiet diplomacy” in handling the Chinese tennis player’s case. Peng Shuai.
“We always ask for as much respect as possible and as little interference as possible from the political world,” said Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr, head of the IOC Coordination Commission for the Beijing Winter Olympics. âWe have to be reciprocal. We respect political decisions taken by political bodies.
The Biden administration on Monday announced a diplomatic boycott of the Games in response to what it called “the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights violations.” American athletes, however, should still compete.
China accused the United States of “political protests and manipulations” and tried to discredit the decision by claiming that American diplomats were not even invited to Beijing in the first place. âThe United States should stop politicizing sport and stop disrupting and undermining the Beijing Winter Olympics, lest it affect bilateral dialogue and cooperation in important areas and on international issues and regional, “Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian warned.
The move sparked a new round of disputes between the world’s two largest economies and prompted Beijing to warn Tuesday that Washington “will pay a price” for its decision.
The United States last staged a full boycott of the Olympics during the Cold War in 1980, when former President Jimmy Carter snubbed the Moscow Summer Games along with 64 other countries and territories after the invasion. of Afghanistan the previous year.
The Soviet Union, in turn, protested the US move by boycotting the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles along with its allies.
The IOC’s response to the US decision came 55 days before the February Olympic Winter Games were held in Beijing. Previously, IOC President Thomas Bach said his organization could not be expected to solve problems that politicians themselves have failed to solve.
âTo expect that the Olympics can fundamentally change a country, its political system or its laws, is a completely exaggerated expectation,â said Bach, a German national. “The Olympics cannot solve problems that generations of politicians have not solved.”
Growing calls for a boycott of the Winter Olympics come at a time when China’s relations with many Western capitals continue to deteriorate due to Beijing’s treatment of its Uyghur population and, more recently, one of its most prominent tennis stars, Peng Shuai.
In recent weeks, the IOC has held two appeals with the Chinese athlete, whose November essay on Chinese social media platform Weibo sparked a huge debate outside the country. In the now-censored long article, she accused a retired senior official of forcing her to have sex.
The IOC’s approach, which it called “quiet diplomacy” or “silent diplomacy”, has been criticized by human rights organizations. They alleged that the organization was engaged in a “publicity stunt” for Beijing.
“I totally disagree,” said Samaranch in response to a question from a reporter about his organization’s handling of the Peng incident on Tuesday. “Everyone should focus on the welfare of Peng Shuai and not try to use it for other purposes.”
He added, âWe did this silent diplomacy in Afghanistan, and it paid off beautifully for a lot of peopleâ¦ Don’t erase the silent diplomacy. It is a very powerful tool.