On Wednesday, in a statement Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, Australia will join the United States in a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.
Australia’s move comes as other allies weigh similar moves to draw attention to gross violations of human rights by China in Xinjiang.
Australia’s move mirrors that of the United States. Washington has said, its government officials will boycott the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing citing China’s human rights “atrocities” in Xinjiang.
Reacting to the US move, China said the United States would “pay the price” for its decision and threatened countermeasures without giving any details.
Morrison’s statement comes at a time when Australia tries to re-open diplomatic channels with China to discuss human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
Announcing the plans to boycott the Winter Olympics in China, Morrison said Beijing has yet to respond to several issues raised by it, including accusations of rights abuse.
“So it is not surprising therefore that Australian government officials would not be going to China for those Games,” said Morrison.
In a statement, the Australian Olympic Committee said, the boycott would have no impact on athletes’ preparations for the Games while adding, “diplomatic options” were a matter for governments.
Britain is also weighing options which includes limited government attendance at the Winter Olympics, stopping short of a full diplomatic boycott, said a report from the Telegraph newspaper on Wednesday. A complete ban on ministerial and diplomatic representation at the Winter Games continues to remain a possibility though.
Japan is also considering not sending cabinet members to the Winter Olympics following the US move, said a report from the Sankei Shimbun daily citing unidentified government sources.
The Biden Administration has called on China to shop the genocide against minority Muslims in the Xinjiang region.
When asked if China would consider a diplomatic boycott of Olympic Games in the United States, Zhao said the U.S. boycott had “damaged the foundation and atmosphere” of the Olympics, without directly answering the US allegations of holding minorities in modern concentration camps in Xinjiang.
The US view is backed by experts from the WHO.
The United States is set to host the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and is preparing to bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
With a growing number of countries joining the boycott, gross human rights abuses by China is being prominently highlighted.
“The only option really that is available to us is to try to get as many countries as we can to stand with us in this coalition,” said Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the German Marshall Fund of the United States during a U.S. congressional hearing.