A “Diplomatic” Boycott of the Beijing Olympics isn’t Good Enough

Biden, the President of the United States, recently stated that he’s considering “diplomatic” sanctions against Beijing for 2022 Winter Olympics.

The United States is considering boycotting the next Winter Olympics in Beijing because of China’s human rights violations. This would prevent American dignitaries from attending the Games, but not the athletes.

Biden, speaking to reporters at the Oval Office as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hosted him, said that supporting a boycott for the Olympics in Feb. is something they’re thinking about.

As a result of China’s numerous human rights violations, I support the call to boycott the Beijing Games. This February posting outlines the arguments for boycotting Beijing Games. I address some objections in an additional post.

A “diplomatic” boycott will not accomplish much. Most people don’t really care about whether certain American “dignitaries”, which presumably refers to politicians and diplomats, are at the Games. The Games are watched by people to watch athletes competing, and not for dignitaries sat in the stands. The Games will still go ahead, even though some dignitaries may not be there, and they will serve as a propaganda display for Beijing. The absence of dignitaries will not be noticed by viewers, and it won’t even connect with Chinese human rights violations.

A true boycott, on the other hand, will not allow the regime to have a powerful propaganda platform and force it to pay for its acts. Even better would it be if liberal democracies threatened to boycott the International Olympic Committee, causing them to pull the Games from China. This could result in lower TV revenues and a decrease in the level of competition. Or, the IOC could hold alternative games. These can be called the Freedom Games. It would divert attention from the Chinese Games and reduce the damage to athletes’ careers by not allowing them to compete in Beijing. I discuss both of these scenarios  in my earlier post on this topic.

The Games will begin in February and time is running out. It’s possible to organize a boycott if you have the political will (a admittedly large if) and not just a “diplomatic” protest.