Scott Morrison confirms Australia will follow the US and not send diplomats to Beijing

Courtney GouldNCA NewsWire
Scott Morrison has confirmed Australia will follow the lead of the US on a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics.. NCA NewsWire / David Mariuz
Camera IconScott Morrison has confirmed Australia will follow the lead of the US on a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics.. NCA NewsWire / David Mariuz Credit: News Corp Australia

Scott Morrison has confirmed Australia will follow the lead of the US on a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Aussie athletes will still attend the games, due to begin in February, but officials and politicians will stay at home in what Mr Morrison said was Australia taking a stand against human rights abuses.

“I very much separate the issues of sport and these political issues,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

“[But] Australia will not step back from the strong position we have in standing up for Australia’s interests.”

Earlier this week the US announced a diplomatic boycott of the games.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said it was about sending a “clear message” to China.

“The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics games given the PRC’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang,” she said.

Mr Morrison said the breakdown of the relationship between Australia and China was a cause of concern and the ongoing human rights abuses against the Uyghur community.

PRIME MINISTER
Camera IconScott Morrison said the decision was Australia taking a stand against human rights abuses. NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw Credit: News Corp Australia

“The human rights abuses in Xinjiang and many other issues that Australia has consistently raised, we have been very pleased and very happy to talk to the Chinese Government about these issues and there’s been no obstacle to that occurring on our side

“But the Chinese Government has consistently not accepted those opportunities for us to meet about these issues.

“So it is not surprising, therefore, that Australian Government officials would, therefore, not be going to China for those Games. Australian athletes will, though.”

Asked about concerns the boycott could lead to further economic or political sanctions, Mr Morrison warned there would be “no grounds” for such action.

“That would be completely and utterly unacceptable and there would be no grounds for that whatsoever,” he said.

In a statement, Australian Olympic Committee chief executive Matt Carroll was lukewarm on the announcement, seeking to alleviate concerns athletes could be impacted.

“We are heartened by the Prime Minister’s support for our Team and we thank the government for its assistance with arrangements to ensure our athletes can travel to Beijing and represent their country with pride,” he said.

“Our Australian athletes have been training and competing with this Olympic dream for four years now and we are doing everything in our power to ensure we can help them succeed.

“Human rights are extremely important, but the considered view of diplomats is that keeping channels of communication open is far more impactful than shutting them down.”

Steven Bradbury won Australia’s first ever gold medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.
Camera IconSteven Bradbury won Australia’s first ever gold medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Credit: News Regional Media

The man who brought home Australia’s first ever Winter Games gold, Steven Bradbury, warned the boycott should not come at the expense of the athletes.

“The world’s stand on China has changed significantly in the last few years, and I believe that we do need to stand up to them, for sure,” he told Sky News.

“But athletes should definitely not suffer for that. Athletes should not be used as pawns in a political game.”

Originally published as Scott Morrison confirms Australia will follow the US and not send diplomats to Beijing

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