For months, homo rights groups and some politicians in Western nations have urged countries to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing over the Chinese government’due south rights abuses. The The states became the first major power to impose a diplomatic boycott, announcing two months before the games that it will not transport any officials to Beijing. Other countries, including some in the European Marriage (EU), could follow arrange.

Why boycott the Beijing Olympics?

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Mainland china is facing intense criticism for its man rights tape. Several countries, including the U.s.a., have accused Mainland china of committing genocide confronting Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region, allegations that Red china denies. Rights groups accept also called attending to Beijing’southward repression in Tibet and its crackdown on freedoms in Hong Kong. The disappearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai from public view in November added to concerns.

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A coalition of nearly two hundred rights groups argues that participating in the Beijing Olympics would be turning a blind eye to these abuses and could be seen as “an endorsement of the Chinese Communist Political party’s authoritarian rule.” The International Olympic Committee (IOC), which organizes and oversees the games, has sought to avoid the controversy, reaffirming that it maintains a “neutral” position on political issues.

What could boycotts look like?

In a full cold-shoulder, a regime refuses to send athletes, officials, and spectators to the host nation. U.S. President Joe Biden’south assistants is instead imposing a diplomatic boycott: Citing the Chinese government’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang” and other abuses, White House Printing Secretary Jen Psaki said athletes are still allowed to compete, only Biden and other government officials will non attend.

Other alternatives to a full boycott include:

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Some lawmakers in the United States, the United Kingdom, and several EU countries accept called for the 2022 Olympics to be moved to another country if Prc does non finish persecuting Uyghurs. Experts say the IOC is unlikely to consider a relocation, which would probably crave a postponement at this late date.

Athlete protests.
Athletes tin themselves cold-shoulder the games or use the media spotlight to make political statements. Although this is prohibited past the IOC, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee has said it volition non sanction American athletes for protests. Nonetheless, some experts warn that athletes who practice so could face repercussions.

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Deportment past sponsors. Activists are as well pressuring corporate sponsors, such as Airbnb and Coca-Cola, to withdraw their support, though none have done so yet. When the
Financial Times
asked the thirteen companies that have major sponsorship contracts with the IOC about their plans, eleven refused to comment.

What motivated past boycotts?

Full boycotts have happened a handful of times for a multifariousness of reasons. Notable examples include the 1976 games, when more than two dozen African nations boycotted the Montreal Olympics after the IOC refused to ban New Zealand, whose rugby team had ignored an international sporting embargo to bout apartheid South Africa. 4 years later, the The states led a cold-shoulder of the Moscow Olympics to protestation the Soviet invasion of Transitional islamic state of afghanistan. The Soviet Union retaliated in 1984, boycotting the Los Angeles Olympics. The last full boycott was in 1988, when Due north Korea and its allies skipped the Seoul Olympics.

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The Beijing Winter Olympics are prepare to begin in February 2022, less than a year after the postponed Tokyo Olympics are held.
Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Do boycotts work?

Experts say information technology is difficult to mensurate a boycott’southward success. “Boycotts have impacts in a variety of ways that are almost always indirect, almost always over a relatively extended menstruum of time, and sometimes counterproductive,” says David Black, a professor at Dalhousie University who studies sports and international affairs.

For example, Black says, the Soviet Marriage didn’t leave Transitional islamic state of afghanistan considering of the 1980 boycott, but the boycott eroded the prestige it hoped to gain from the games and signaled growing disapproval of Moscow’s actions.

In the example of the 2022 Beijing Olympics, many experts say that a cold-shoulder probable won’t work and could brand it fifty-fifty harder to gain concessions from China. Some say that concerned governments and media outlets could instead utilize the 2022 games to draw attention to China’southward abuses.

Would China retaliate?

China’s foreign ministry has warned of a “robust response” to whatever boycotts, including taking unspecified “countermeasures” confronting the The states over its diplomatic boycott. Experts point out that Beijing has many ways it could retaliate.

The Chinese government could append bilateral exchanges and participation in global talks, such as those on climate change; disrupt trade; and sanction strange officials. Indeed, in that location are endless examples in recent years of Beijing retaliating confronting foreign actions it disapproved of.

China could also leverage its vast consumer market of 1.4 billion people to damage companies that withdraw support for the games. For case, before this year, brands including H&M and Nike faced boycotts by some of the Chinese public afterward the companies said they would stop using cotton from Xinjiang. “If Beijing perceives that it has lost face, it could react pretty strongly,” says CFR’s Yanzhong Huang.

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