Australia considers unofficial boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

Artists chat near a sign of Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, before an event marking the 100-day countdown to the opening of the Games in Beijing, China on Nov 24, 2021.
PHOTO: Reuters file

SYDNEY - Australia is considering not sending any government officials to the Winter Olympics to be held in Beijing next year amid growing calls from lawmakers for an official diplomatic boycott, the Sydney Morning Herald said in a report on Thursday (Nov 25).

Australian politicians from the ruling Liberal-National coalition and the opposition Labor party are urging the federal government to boycott the event, which will be held in February, the newspaper reported without citing a source.

A diplomatic boycott would involve not sending a delegation of officials, but allowing athletes to participate.

"A decision on (Australia's) representation at the Beijing Winter Olympics is yet to be made," a spokesperson for Sports Minister Richard Colbeck said in an emailed response. Australia's foreign affairs department did not respond to a request seeking comment.

President Joe Biden last week said the United States is considering a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics, a move that would be aimed at protesting China's human rights record, including what Washington says is genocide against minority Muslims.

Britain has not yet made any decision on who will represent its government at the Olympics but Prime Minister Boris Johnson does not support the idea of boycotts, said his spokesman earlier this week.

The Australian government is awaiting the decision by the Biden administration before it makes a call on a diplomatic boycott, the report in the Sydney Morning Herald said.

Both the United States and Britain are close allies of Australia and the countries in September entered into a security partnership to help Australia build nuclear submarines. The trilateral deal riled China, the major rising power in the Indo-Pacific region.

Australia's relationship with China, its largest trading partner, soured after it banned Huawei Technologies Co Ltd from its 5G broadband network in 2018 ancalled for an independent investigation into the origins of Covid-19. Beijing responded by imposing tariffs on several Australian commodities.

READ ALSO: Beijing 2022: China 'will seriously sanction' any country that boycotts Winter Olympics