Australia will not send officials or delegates to the Beijing Winter Olympics as part of a diplomatic boycott. After the US announced this week they would boycott the games, other allied nations are expected to consider following suit.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced today that Australia will join the US in their formal boycott of February’s Winter Olympic Games. The games, which are set to be held in Beijing, China, will still be attended by US and Australian athletes.
“I’m doing it because it’s in Australia’s national interest,” the prime minister said.
“It’s the right thing to do.”
Mr Morrison said that Australia’s participation should come as “no surprise”. The relationship between Australia and China has weakened over the past few years.
The boycott comes as a response to China’s ongoing human rights abuses against the Uyghur people. The Uyghur people are a Muslim ethnic group and minority living in China, mostly in the Xinjiang region.
It is estimated that roughly one million Uyghurs living in China have been detained in internment camps over the past few years. Many scholars and officials consider China’s actions a means of genocide against the Uyghurs.
Government officials speaking on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have claimed these camps serve as a means of “re-education” for Uyghurs regarding CCP ideologies.
China has condemned the US for their boycott, saying “resolute countermeasures” will be taken.
“The United States will pay a price for its mistaken acts,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.
“Let’s all wait and see,” he added.
Mr Zhao also said that the US’ boycott “damaged the foundation and atmosphere” of the Olympics.
Canada and the United Kingdom have both said they are considering their options regarding the boycott.
The Winter Olympic Games are set to take place from February 4 to 20 next year.