The Biden administration won't send US officials to attend the coming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, the White House said, deciding instead to hold a diplomatic boycott that drew immediate criticism from China.
The decision was made weeks ago, though US officials waited to make the announcement to allow some time to pass after a phone call last month between President Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to stabilize tense relations, advisers to the administration said.
President Joe Biden said last month that he was considering such a diplomatic boycott amid criticism of China's human rights record, including what Washington says is genocide against minority Muslims in its western region of Xinjiang.
"The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games given the PRC's ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told a daily press briefing.
"US diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the PRC's egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang, and we simply can't do that," Psaki said, referring to the People's Republic of China.
China's embassy in Washington did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
The diplomatic boycott, which has been encouraged by some members of the US Congress for months, would not affect the attendance of American athletes.