Over concerns about China’s human rights violations, the US announced a diplomatic boycott at Beijing’s 2022 Winter Olympics. As expected, Australia and the UK, both members of the new AUKUS military alliance to counter China, followed suit.
Boycotts can be use diplomatically by states to voice disapproval over various issues. The states involved in this boycott are refusing diplomatic representations to the Games, but they are not preventing their athletes from competing. This is why it is so difficult to organize a boycott of this kind. It can also undermine the international value that sport has to offer.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), is comprise of members who represent their country in their respective countries. This has allowed the IOC to maintain its political neutrality throughout the years. Thomas Bach, the president of the IOC, state that the Games would be end if politics were allow in.
The White House announced that it will not penalize US athletes by preventing them from participating at the Games. This is a clear indication that the US recognizes the importance to leave politics out of sports – so why should they boycott?
Constructive Ambiguity Diplomatic
This is an example constructive ambiguity, a negotiation tactic that Henry Kissinger, one the most prominent diplomats in America, used. This term refers to the intentional use of ambiguous terminology to advance a political goal and does not denote integrity, but self-preservation.
The UN general assembly passed a resolution to build peace and a better world through sport and the Olympic idea just days before the boycott was announced. Although 173 members states cosponsored the resolution, the US was not among them. Luis Moreno Permanent Observer of the IOC to UN) stated that this was only possible if the Olympic Games were politically neutral and not used as a tool for political ends.
President of World Athletics Seb Coe and the IOC both denounced any politically motivated boycotts. Coe, who was the 1980 Moscow Games Olympic champion despite support from the British government for a boycott by the USA, called the current decision “a meaningless gesture.”
These events further reinforce the diplomatic boycott by the US. The Biden administration supports the participation of American athletes in the Beijing Games. This explicitly recognizes the Olympic values as well as the primacy and authority of the Olympic Charter.
The US also declared a diplomatic boycott. This clearly undermining the political neutrality and placing its Olympic authorities and athletes into a difficult position. A boycott encourages officials and athletes from these countries to distance themselves from their governments, or to admit that they don’t care about China’s human rights.
Boots In The Past Diplomatic
US policies towards sporting boycotts have been inconsistent. Despite the repeated efforts of US diplomats in Berlin, appeals to boycott 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany were ignored.
David Kanin, a former CIA expert on the Olympic movement, spoke out about the Moscow boycott.
If the White House had been more informed about the organization and operation of the Olympic Movement and international sport, the international impact of this boycott could have been much greater.
Historians consider the Moscow boycott to be a failure of Olympic proportions and a foreign policy.
For a variety of ethical, political, and legal reasons, past Olympic boycotts have been unsuccessful. The Olympic movement includes 206 countries. To be successful, it requires the support of the vast majority of countries. This is unlikely because all countries have strong bilateral relationships with other states that they won’t compromise over a sporting event.
Response To The Boycott
China’s response to the boycott has been more harsh, stating that the countries involved will pay the cost. China also stated that it will not invite diplomats from the West who have threatened to boycott, pointing out that the White House’s initiative is political grandstanding.
Human rights violations should be condemned wherever they occur, but Biden’s decision to boycott the Olympics politically is timid and misplaced. To pursue freedom, we must be clear about our positions. Sports are a great way to bring people together and foster ongoing dialogue.
In 1971, the Nixon administration sent nine US table-tennis players to China in an effort to reestablish diplomatic relations. This was known as pingpong diplomacy, and it is a prime example of the interconnectedness between sport and international understanding. It would be a mistake not to do that now.