Dec 9, 2021: Canada has joined the United States and Australia in a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing, citing China’s human rights record.
Speaking to reporters in Ottawa on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would not send an official delegation to the Games, which will be held in the Chinese capital from February 4 to 20.
Trudeau said he did not think the decision would be “surprising” for China.
“We have been very clear over the years about our deepest concerns about human rights violations and this is a continuation of our deep concern over human rights violations,” he said. Trudeau added that Canadian athletes would still compete in the Olympics.
The move follows similar decisions by Australia and the United States, where President Joe Biden’s administration blamed China’s treatment of Muslim Uighurs in its western region of Xinjiang for boycotting the Olympics.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said on Wednesday that “there will be effectively a diplomatic boycott” of the Olympics in Beijing, but he reiterated his opposition to sporting boycotts, which he said are not sensible.
The diplomatic boycotts risk further straining ties between the Western nations and China, which said on Wednesday that it had not invited British ministers to the games.
Meanwhile, Canada’s Olympic boycott guarantees to worsen already strained relations with China. Relations deteriorated further in 2018 when two Canadian businessmen were arrested by Chinese authorities on charges of espionage. Ottawa said the move was in retaliation for the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wenzhou on a US extradition request – a charge Beijing has denied.
Meng, who has been under house arrest in Vancouver for three years, struck a deal with US prosecutors and returned to China in late September, and Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovig soon returned to Canada.
But Trudeau’s government has spoken out against China’s rights record.
Earlier this year, the Canadian Parliament passed a non-binding resolution calling China’s treatment of Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang “genocide.” The United Nations and rights groups believe that at least one million members of the Uighur and other Muslim minorities have been detained. China has denied the allegations, saying its camps provide professional training and are needed to fight extremism.
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