Canada to join diplomatic boycott of Olympics to send China human rights message -PM

Canada's Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge, with Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Sport Adam van Koeverden, speaks during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, December 8, 2021. REUTERS/Blair Gable

 Canada will join its allies in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing in February to send China a message over its human rights record, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday.

Australia and Britain will join the diplomatic boycott, their prime ministers said on Wednesday, as other allies weighed similar moves to protest at China’s human rights record. China denies all rights abuses.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration cited what the United States calls genocide against minority Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region. China denies all rights abuses.

“Many partners around the world are extremely concerned by the repeated human rights violations by the Chinese government. That’s why we are announcing today that we will not be sending any diplomatic representation to the Beijing Olympics,” Trudeau told reporters.

A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Canada in a written statement accused Trudeau of making false claims.

“Based on ideological biases as well as lies and rumors, Canada and a handful of western countries have been flagrantly engaged in political maneuvering, with the attempt to disrupt the smooth progress of Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Their clumsy performance can hardly find any support and is doomed to fail,” the spokesperson said.

Athletes from countries taking part in the diplomatic boycott will still compete in the Games and Trudeau said the Canadian contingent would have Ottawa’s full support.

Canada, which has seen relations with China deteriorate in recent years, is one of the world’s leading winter sporting nations. It finished third in the medal rankings at the 2018 Games in South Korea.

“We have been very clear over the past many years of our deep concerns around human rights violations and this is a continuation of us expressing our deep concerns,” Trudeau said.

Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said Canada needed to send a strong message to Beijing.

Earlier this week the head of the official opposition Conservatives urged the Liberal government to join the boycott, accusing Trudeau of taking too soft a line with China.

Reporting by David Ljunggren, Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb Editing by Mark Heinrich, Alistair Bell, David Gregorio and Lincoln Feast.

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