An NPR member station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Citing humanitarian abuses, U.S. will stage a diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics

Women practice a dance routine on Oct. 27 in front of a large countdown screen showing 100 days before the opening of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
Kevin Frayer
Getty Images
Women practice a dance routine on Oct. 27 in front of a large countdown screen showing 100 days before the opening of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

Updated December 6, 2021 at 3:13 PM ET

The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representatives to Beijing for next year's Winter Olympics, the White House announced Monday, citing the Chinese government's "ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity" in the Xinjiang region.

"The athletes on Team USA have our full support. We will be behind them 100% as we cheer them on from home," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters, but she continued: "We will not be contributing to the fanfare of the games."

Psaki's charges of abuse were in reference to the Chinese government's treatment of Uyghur Muslims, an ethnic minority in the Xinjiang province who have been targeted in recent years.

The extensive list of alleged abuses includes systematic state-organized mass imprisonment, torture and persecution against people in Xinjiang province, including Uyghurs and Kazakhs.

The diplomatic boycott had been expected and followed other global condemnation of China's treatment of ethnic minorities. The United States earlier this year joined the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada in imposing economic sanctions on China in protest of the government's human rights abuses.

Critics say the Beijing Winter Games, which begin in early February, are China's attempt to leverage the popularity of a global sporting event to whitewash its poor record on human rights.

"I want to stress that the Winter Olympic Games is not a stage for political posturing and manipulation," the Washington Post reports Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian saying on Monday, shortly before the White House announced the boycott.

"U.S. politicians keep hyping a 'diplomatic boycott' without even being invited to the Games," the spokesman added. "This wishful thinking and pure grandstanding is aimed at political manipulation. It is a grave travesty of the spirit of the Olympic Charter, a blatant political provocation and a serious affront to the 1.4 billion Chinese people."

The boycott announcement comes weeks after President Biden held a multi-hour video call with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit

Alana Wise joined WAMU in September 2018 as the 2018-2020 Audion Reporting Fellow for Guns & America. Selected as one of 10 recipients nationwide of the Audion Reporting Fellowship, Alana works in the WAMU newsroom as part of a national reporting project and is spending two years focusing on the impact of guns in the Washington region.
Alana Wise
Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.