U.S., Canadian and British Olympic Committees Don't Support 2022 Beijing Boycott

The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics are scheduled to begin in exactly 50 weeks from Thursday. A small groundswell of western lawmakers have rumbled that they prefer to boycott the Beijing Games if the International Olympic Committee (IOC) does not move the games to another country.

The Olympic and Paralympic committees in the United States, Canada and Great Britain have said they all oppose a Beijing boycott, and that they still have intentions on participating in China next year.

Though the Summer Olympics have been boycotted before—notably by the U.S. in 1980 and the U.S.S.R. in 1984—a Winter Olympics boycott would be unprecedented.

2022 Beijing Winter Olympics
This picture taken on February 3, 2021, shows people visiting Beijing Olympic tower in Beijing on February 3, 2021, a year before the opening of the 2022 Winter Olympics on February 4, 2022. Photo by WANG ZHAO/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) stated that American athletes and coaches are still preparing to compete in China, and that global issues should be addressed by governments, not athletes. The committee added that boycotts have negative effects on athletes.

"We oppose Games boycotts because they have been shown to negatively impact athletes while not effectively addressing global issues," the USOPC said in a statement. "We believe the more effective course of action is for the governments of the world and China to engage directly on human rights and geopolitical issues."

Mike Waltz, a Republican representative from Florida, said Monday he doesn't believe the United States "cannot" in good conscience participate in the quadrennial Games hosted by a "brutal dictatorship." This follows British politicians supporting a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Games.

Waltz filed a resolution urging the USOPC to "propose the transfer of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games to a site other than within the People's Republic of China." Should moving to another country not happen, then Waltz said the U.S. and other countries should "withdraw" from the 2022 Winter Olympics.

The British Olympic Association (BOA) also responded to a Newsweek query, saying they have never boycotted an Olympic Games, and they fully intend on going to Beijing in less than a year.

"The BOA is completely independent of government and we remain fully committed to taking our team to Beijing 2022," BOA communications manager Charlotte Harwood wrote. "We believe that to boycott a Games only impacts the constituent body it represents – the athletes. It can severely hamper progression, impact funding and in some cases end careers."

The Canadian Olympic Committee directed Newsweek to an op-ed penned by the CEOs of their Olympic and Paralympic Committees. Here's what Olympic Committee chairman David Shoemaker and Paralympic Committee Chairman Karen O'Neill said in the western and central Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail.

"Over the past few months, we have started to hear rumblings of a proposed boycott of the Beijing Games," the committee overseers wrote. "China's troubling human-rights record, the oppression of the Uyghur minority and the continued detention of two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, are deeply concerning for us. In no way are we, at the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee, trying to minimize what is happening in China. But a boycott is not the answer."

The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics are scheduled to take place Feb. 4-20, 2022, in three different cities in northern China. Russia is not allowed to compete as a country because of past doping allegations, which leaves countries mostly from the West. If the U.S. were to boycott, many European countries could follow the United States' lead.

For now, with only one lawmaker going public about a boycott, it looks like the Americans will continue to train for Beijing, which has already opened new infrastructure earlier than anticipated.

China has planned to use the 2022 Games to coincide with its Spring Festival, better known as Chinese New Year, for the world to see how the country celebrates. The Chinese New Year in 2022—the Year of the Tiger—begins February 1 and lasts 16 days.

China has already constructed and opened a 108-mile-long, high-speed rail system from Beijing to Zhangjiakou. The world's first driverless bullet train, which opened December 30, 2019, can reach speeds up to 217 miles per hour (350 km/hr). These "smart trains" have state-of-the-art facial recognition technology at stations, and it has cabin capacity suited for athletes carrying large equipment, and accessibility for disabled athletes traveling back and forth for the Winter Paralympic Games.

The resolution filed by Waltz says the Chinese Communist Party has extended "repressive policies through censorship, intimidation and the detention of individuals and groups for exercising their fundamental human rights, especially in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and Hong Kong."

The resolution also identifies mass internment camps, forced labor, efforts to intensify persecution of campaigns that bring religion into China and those under watchful control during the spread of COVID-19.

"Hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics Games in the PRC, where organized atrocities in the XUAR are ongoing; where the freedoms of Hong Kong's citizens are being trampled; where the fundamental right to worship is brutally persecuted; and in the wake of the ongoing global devastation from COVID-19; would be immoral, unethical and wrong," the resolution states.