Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed Australia will join a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics as a protest against China’s human rights abuses.
Australia will not send any government officials or politicians to the Beijing Olympics in February next year, but will still allow Australian athletes to compete, bringing it into line with the United States which announced a diplomatic boycott earlier this week.
Scott Morrison has confirmed Australia would not be sending any officials to the Winter Olympics.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen
Mr Morrison said China’s “human rights abuses” in the far-western province of Xinjiang, where it has forcibly moved Uighurs into re-education camps, was a concern for Australia.
He also highlighted Beijing’s wave of trade strikes against Australia and its refusal to return phone calls from Australian ministers as reasons behind the move.
“[We are] 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,” Mr Morrison said in Sydney on Wednesday morning.
“So it is not surprising, therefore, that Australian government officials would not be going to China for those games. Australian athletes will, though. Australia’s a great sporting nation and I very much separate the issues of sport and these other political issues. They’re issues between two governments.”
Mr Morrison did not use the word “boycott” but his announcement that Australia would not be sending officials and his highlighting of Australia’s concerns over China’s human rights record amounts to the same position as the US.
Mr Morrison said he would like to see the issues between Beijing and Canberra resolved but “they’re not resolved and Australia will not step back from the strong position we had standing up for Australia’s interest”.
“And obviously, it is of no surprise that we wouldn’t be sending Australian officials to those games.”
The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age revealed on Wednesday that Australia had already decided not to send any officials or politicians to China.
Sources confirmed that no staff at Australia’s embassy in Beijing, including ambassador to China Graham Fletcher, would attend events.
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