Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has joined forces with U.S. President Joe Biden to perform a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games in 2022. The move comes amid concerns over China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Trudeau expressed that the Canadian government is “extremely concerned” about the "repeated human rights violations carried out by the Chinese government."
Trudeau noted that Canada will show its objections to the communist regime by withholding its diplomatic delegates to the event. Typically, high-profile diplomats attend the Olympics to show their support for the games during the opening and closing ceremonies.
Asked about potential backlash from China, Trudeau said that it “should not come as a surprise.”
"For months, we have been coordinating and discussing the issue with our allies," he said, CBC reported.
Earlier this year, the House of Commons passed a motion branding the violence directed at religious minorities in China's Xinjiang province as "genocide." That motion followed a Commons subcommittee report that found China persecutes its Muslim minority through mass detention in concentration camps, forced labour, state surveillance and population control measures — policies the report said are designed to "eradicate Uyghur culture and religion."
In the motion, MPs also called on the federal government to use its influence to pressure the International Olympic Committee to move the games out of China "if the Chinese government continues this genocide."
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole said Wednesday his party's push to relocate the games got "no traction with Mr. Trudeau" and a diplomatic boycott is the next best thing.
On Monday, Biden moved to perform a diplomatic boycott of the games, which was soon followed by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. New Zealand also announced a diplomatic boycott of the games on Tuesday, Bloomberg reported.
“The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games, given the PRC’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Monday.
“The athletes on Team USA have our full support, we’ll be behind them 100% as we cheer them on from home. We will not be contributing to the fanfare of the Games,” Psaki said.
The Biden administration’s move was followed by Australia’s Scott Morrison, who said that it would be joining the U.S. in the boycott.
“[We are] very happy to talk to the Chinese government about these issues and there’s been no obstacle to that occurring on our side, but the Chinese government has consistently not accepted those opportunities for us to meet about these issues,” Morrison said.
“So it is not surprising, therefore, that Australian government officials would not be going to China for those games. Australian athletes will, though. Australia’s a great sporting nation and I very much separate the issues of sport and these other political issues. They’re issues between two governments,” he added.
On Wednesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that British diplomats would not be attending the event, the BBC reported.
Despite the diplomatic boycott, athletes are free to compete in the games, and their governments have offered no suggestion that they would be pulling out the athletes.
China has responded to the U.S. diplomatic boycott, promising that it “will pay a price for its wrong practices,” according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, Rebel News reported.