What does an Olympic diplomatic boycott achieve?

GENEVA – Diplomatic boycotts of the Olympics are intended to irritate the host nations while keeping the athletes free to compete.

A series of government boycotts hit China on Wednesday, less than two months before the opening of the Beijing Olympics.

The impact of these political weapons on athletes at matches should be close to zero and viewers should see no difference in their broadcast content.

Their aim is counted as hurting the pride of host countries like China, which often has both sports and politics and an incentive to organize big events like the Olympics or the World Cup. of football.

In Australia, then the UK and Canada, governments have reportedly refused to send officials to the Winter Olympics to be held from 4 to 20 February. The move against China start in the US in Monday.


These countries are longtime diplomatic allies who want to draw attention to China’s human rights record, and especially its treatment of Muslim Uyghurs, which some have called genocide.

The IOC will also feel the sting of the IOC, whose leaders are acutely aware of its potential place in world politics even while promoting. neutrality to which the Olympic Charter is bound.

IOC leaders want to mark the Olympic brand by saying that their sporting event is the only event to bring together more than 200 national teams in peace and friendship as an example for world.

Any deviation from the message of global unity is not welcome.


The Olympic Charter is the set of rules and laws that govern the IOC and “set the conditions for the celebration of the Olympic Games”.

Rule 2 regarding the “Mission and Role of the IOC” helps explain why any boycott would be considered an offense against the IOC principles.


It includes: “Take action to strengthen the unity of the Olympic Movement, defend its independence, maintain and promote political neutrality, and preserve the autonomy of sport.”

For the IOC, being politically neutral means not calling for a country to host the Olympics because of its policies and behavior outside of sport or having nothing to do with hosting the games.

“We always ask for as much respect as possible from the political world and as little interference as possible in the world and our sporting and Olympic ideals,” said IOC senior member Juan Antonio Samaranch. know this week.


The IOC still carries emotional scars from the peak of more than 100 countries that combined to boycott all three consecutive Summer Olympics from 1976 to 1984.

The 1976 Montreal Olympics were influenced mainly by African nations that opposed New Zealand’s participation after the country’s rugby team toured Apartheid-era South Africa.


The 1980 Moscow Olympics took place without the United States and dozens of other teams protesting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The Soviet bloc and some of its allies retaliated by boycotting the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Thousands of athletes missed competing at an Olympics four decades ago. No one should miss the Beijing Winter Olympics because of a diplomatic boycott.


Who will stay at home instead of traveling to Beijing next February? Most senior lawmakers and diplomats, when the opening ceremony was held on February 4.

There is no diplomatic obligation for heads of state to attend the Olympic Games, and attending the Winter Olympics is not a more attractive ticket than the summer version.

Still, it’s great to show up at an old ally’s party or forge alliances with potential new friends.

Then-President George W. Bush traveled to Beijing for the opening of the 2008 Summer Olympics, supposedly a launch party to welcome a more China.


In July, First Lady Jill Biden led the US team to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Joining the game can also create diplomatic problems, as Vice President Mike Pence found at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Pence found himself in an awkward position as he sat near the North Korean delegation at the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, which has become a celebration for the relatively brief thaw in relations between the neighbors. North Korea.

The Korean agreement has been warmly encouraged by the IOC, which appears to have bent its definition of political neutrality to the limit.


China’s response to the diplomatic boycott is spreading from “not bothered at all” to “clearly quite concerned”.


The US announcement on Monday prompted the Chinese Embassy in Washington to post a tweet: “Actually, nobody cares if these people come or not, and it doesn’t matter how # Beijing 2022 was held successfully.”

In Beijing, the State Department said Americans were intervening “because of ideological prejudice and based on lies and rumours.”

China’s state-run Global Times newspaper on Wednesday called Australia “immature, arrogant and stupid to follow the US”. “Rational nations will think of their own people’s interests instead of cooperating with the useless US stunt.”


Adding strength to the current boycott movement is that it is being carried out by both recent and future Olympic host countries reliably.

The United States and Australia’s hosting of the Summer Olympics, in 2028 in Los Angeles and in 2032 in Brisbane, could provoke Chinese retaliation.

U.S. Olympic officials are also likely to seek IOC support to host the Winter Olympics again in Salt Lake City, which also hosted 2002.


Canada hosted the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, and when London hosted the 2012 Olympics, the city’s mayor was Boris Johnson. He announced a diplomatic boycott of the UK in parliament on Wednesday as prime minister.


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Huynh Nguyen

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