US Boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

Greg Teich, Senior Writer

Beijing was elected as host city by the International Olympics Committee (IOC) in July 2015, beating the other selected cities in Norway and Kazakhstan. The selection process marked the beginning of Olympic controversy as Norway pulled out of the selection due to budget conflict, citing the IOC’s unreasonable demands, including full control of Norwegian advertising for the event[6]. Beijing then won the selection with 44 votes to Kazakhstan (Almaty) with 40.

Beginning in 2018, concerns arose around China’s hosting of the 2022 Games due to human rights issues. In October of 2018 Senator Marco Rubio asked that the Games be moved from China, after the United Nations (UN) discussed the figure of 1 million Uyghur people being held in internment camps[5]. In 2019 the Chinese government officially announced that the vocational training centers, previously holding Uyghur people, had been closed and their occupants released[4]. Despite this, Issues regarding China’s treatment of the Uyghur people continue to be a contentious issue to the present day, with mistreatment still being reported. 

Since 2018 several other US politicians have called for a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi[7]. Despite the internal pressure, by early 2021 the Biden administration was not discussing any boycott of China or the Olympic Games being held there[8}. Later that year, Axios released polling information which showed 49% of Americans polled believed China should lose the right to host the Olympics due to their human rights violations[2]. By November 2021, Joe Biden announced the US would consider a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Olympic Games, with some senators calling for a complete boycott, which would also bar athletes from competing[3].  

On December 6th 2021, the White House announced a diplomatic boycott on the games, preventing any US government officials from attending. The White House gave the Chinese treatment of the Uyghur people as reasoning for the boycott[1]