‘Diplomatic Boycott’ of Beijing Olympics Added to China Bill

A proposal aimed at limiting U.S. participation in the Winter Olympics in Beijing was approved by a Senate committee as part of broader legislation targeting China that could reach the Senate floor soon.

The “diplomatic boycott” wouldn’t ban U.S. athletes from attending the games, but would prohibit funding to send any official American delegation to the Olympics, which are set to begin next February.

It was offered by Senators Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican, and Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, as a way to highlight human rights issues in Hong Kong and with China’s Uyghur population. It was included in an amendment package to legislation intended to confront China’s growing economic and strategic power.

“It’s disgusting that the IOC has provided Beijing a platform to host the world, and to have a nation which is committing genocide against a people is at the same time hosting an Olympic games is jarring and outrageous,” Romney said at the committee hearing, referring to the International Olympic Committee.

Romney said he wanted to make a statement about the China and human rights without punishing U.S. athletes. “They have trained their entire lives to be ready for this moment,” he said.

Politicizing sports events will not get international support, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular press briefing Thursday in Beijing, adding that China is confident it will hold a successful games.

Under the legislation, Secretary of State Antony Blinken could waive the so-called diplomatic boycott if the situation warrants.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he intends have a broader legislative package dealing with U.S. competition with China on the Senate floor as soon as next month.

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