The U.S. is “considering” a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, President Joe Biden told reporters Thursday.
Biden confirmed that the boycott is “something we are considering” during a bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. A diplomatic boycott would allow for U.S. athletes to attend and compete in the games, but the U.S. would not send a delegation of prominent officials to attend. It is common for a vice president or first lady to attend the games alongside a number of senior officials.
U.S. relations with China have become increasingly strained under former President Donald Trump and Biden. China has engaged in numerous human rights abuses, including the ongoing genocide of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang and the overthrow of democracy in Hong Kong. (RELATED: State Department Releases Report Blasting China For Its Genocide Against The Uighurs)
The abuses have led to an outcry from human rights groups calling for the U.S. and other countries to fully boycott the games. The Department of State said in April that a full boycott is not off the table, but the White House now appears to be leaning toward a lighter rebuke in the diplomatic boycott.
Conservatives have called on Biden to be take a more aggressive stance against China throughout his administration. Nikki Haley, who served as U.N. Ambassador under the Trump administration, is continuing a push for a full boycott of the Olympics.
“The United States must boycott the Olympics completely,” she said in a statement provided to the Daily Caller on Thursday. “That includes our President. attending sends a message that America is willing to turn a blind eye as Communist China commits genocide.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki elaborated on Biden’s statement during a Thursday press briefing. Reporters also pressed her on whether the consideration of a boycott was a commentary on Biden’s Monday meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
“It doesn’t say anything about the meeting. They didn’t talk about the Olympics during the meeting; it wasn’t a topic that was discussed during the meeting,” Psaki said, adding that the Biden administration has always seen the U.S.-China relationship as one of mutual competition.
“There are areas that we do have concerns. Human rights abuses, you’ve seen. not just in words we’ve used but certainly in actions we’ve taken at the G7 and other sanctions, that we have serious concerns about the human rights abuses we’ve seen in Xinjiang, and certainly there are a range of factors as we look at what our presence would be.”