Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday December 9, 2021
Canada joining diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics
Canada will not send any official representatives to the Beijing Winter Olympics in February as part of a growing diplomatic boycott by allies over China’s record of human rights abuses.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement on Wednesday after facing several days of questions over whether Canada would stand with allies that have already announced similar plans.
“We are announcing today that we will not be sending any diplomatic representation to the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic games this winter,” said Trudeau, adding he does not believe the move from Canada or by allies will “come as a surprise” to China.
“We have been very clear over the past many years of our deep concerns around human rights violations and this is a continuation of us expressing our deep concerns for human rights violations.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has worked in the past with the Canadian Olympic Committee to try to keep athletes safe while competing abroad.
Calls have been growing over recent days as Canada’s closest allies have announced their plans not to send official representatives to the Beijing Olympics in February as part of a diplomatic boycott over China’s human rights abuses, particularly against the Uyghur ethnic minority.
The United States, the U.K., and Australia all announced their decisions this week.
Liberal MP Adam van Koeverden, an Olympic gold medalist kayaker, said a diplomatic boycott is one of the tools at Canada’s disposal and that he doesn’t think such a move would cause additional stress on athletes.
“My priority is to make sure that athletes have the opportunity to compete, and of their safety and security as well,” he said on Wednesday.
A diplomatic boycott refers specifically to non-athletes. It would see countries that agree to take part in a boycott pledge not to send diplomatic missions or representatives to attend the ceremonies and the events themselves.
Normally, participating countries typically do send official representatives from their governments.
For example, former Canadian governor general David Johnson attended the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for six days as the country’s official representative. (Global)