State Department Backs Away From Idea Of A Beijing Olympics Boycott

The United States State Department denied it was considering a joint boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing alongside allies and partners in an effort to address China's human rights abuses.

“Our position on the 2022 Olympics has not changed. We have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners,” a senior State Department official wrote in an emailed statement to CNBC.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price initially suggested a boycott of the Winter Olympic Games -- which are scheduled to take place between February 4 and February 20 next year -- would be among the possibilities for mounting international pushback on China.

The Biden administration is currently working to rally allies in its effort but while the idea of taking a tougher policy stance against China has received bipartisan support, the idea of boycotting the Olympics is not unanimously viewed as the most productive path to take.

A former senior Treasury official, who had previously requested to remain anonymous when discussing the topic, said the move would be similar to a "Cold War statement" on the United States' part.

“It’s better to go there and dominate,” the official told CNBC. “It’s better to be Jesse Owens than the Soviets in ’84.”

The comparison references Owens, a Black American sprinter, winning four gold medals at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Nazi Berlin, as well as the Soviet Union's decision to boycott the 1984 summer games in Los Angeles following the U.S.'s initial boycott of the Moscow games four years prior in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Last month, the Biden administration sanctioned two Chinese officials in relation to serious human rights abuses against ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, which complemented actions also taken by the European Union, United Kingdom and Canada.

Photo: Getty Images

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