Who is boycotting the Beijing Winter Olympics and why?

·2-min read

The Beijing Winter Olympics are rapidly approaching but controversy continues to shadow the Games, with several countries set to diplomatically boycott the event.

Human rights organisations have repeatedly condemned China’s alleged abuses of the Uyghur Muslim minority, while there continues to be uncertainty over the safety of Peng Shuai after the former tennis player accused a Communist Party official of sexual assault.

Other countries have cited the pandemic and current Covid restrictions as the reason top representatives won’t make the trip to Beijing, where the Games begin on 4 February.

Countries are reluctant to deprive their athletes of the chance to compete at the Games but many have instead opted not to send official government delegations.

Here is a list of the countries set to diplomatically boycott the Games:


Australian prime minister Scott Morrison confirmed that no government officials would travel for the Games.


Austria’s chancellor Karl Nehammer said the country would not send any government representatives to China due to coronavirus requirements.


Belgium’s prime minister Alexander De Croo announced that the country would not send any representation to the Games regardless of what the EU’s wider position is.


Prime minister Justin Trudeau announced that the government would diplomatically boycott the Games, and said the decision should not “come as a surprise” to China.


Denmark’s foreign minister Jeppe Kofod said they would join the diplomatic boycott due to being “very concerned about the human rights situation in China.”


Estonia confirmed that it will not send an official delegation to the Games.


Japan will not send top government representatives to Japan in part due to human rights concerns but will still send Olympic officials.


Lithuania has announced that its foreign minister will also skip the Games after diplomatic ties between the two countries became fraught, owing to Lithuania’s association with Taiwan.


A spokesman for the foreign ministry of the Netherlands said they will not send a diplomatic delegation due to Covid restrictions.

New Zealand

New Zealand’s deputy prime minister Grant Roberston said that they would not send any government officials to China due to “a range of factors but mostly to do with Covid”.


The Slovenian president Borut Pahor said he wouldn’t attend the opening ceremony due to Covid.


Sweden’s sports minister Anders Ygeman confirmed there would be no government ministers attending the Games but insisted it was “not a diplomatic boycott”.

United Kingdom

Boris Johnson confirmed on 8 December that no government ministers would attend the games. “There will be effectively a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing,” he said.

United States

President Joe Biden announced in December that the US would not send an official delegation to the Games due to “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang”.

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