Australia Sides with US, Announces Diplomatic Boycott of Beijing Olympics

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In an apparent siding with its ally, Australia has announced joining the US in a formal diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics next year, risking to worsen the already strained relations.

Stressing that China has made no attempt to respond to several issues raised by Australia, including alleged human rights abuses of the Uyghur Muslim minority, the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday that the Australian government officials’ decision is not surprising.

Similar to the US, Canberra will also allow Australian athletes to compete in the Olympics despite the diplomatic boycott, with ScoMo noting that’s in Australia’s national interest and the right thing to do.

Stressing that diplomatic options are a matter for the government, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has welcomed ScoMo’s decision, which separates politics and sport, with AOC chief executive Matt Carroll pointing that about 40 Australian athletes, team officials, coaches, and doctors would attend the games, along with VP Ian Chesterman and president John Coates.

Underlining that AOV is politically neutral and that athletes are entitled to their own opinions, Carroll said they’ve been in contact with them, and that no one has expressed concern over attending.

The boycott comes in the wake of the decline in trade and political relationships between Australia and China over past years.

Not responding to Morrison’s human rights claims, China’s embassy downplayed the significance of Australia’s decision to boycott, saying only that it “runs counter to Canberra’s publicly pronounced expectation to improve relations between the two countries.

The Embassy spokesperson pointed that the blame for the current predicament of China-Australia relations lies squarely on the Australian side, urging Canberra again to “take practical measures to create favorable conditions” that would improve bilateral relations.

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