WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand will not be sending diplomatic representatives at a ministerial level to the Beijing Winter Olympics in February, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said on Tuesday, citing COVID-19 as the reason.
The comments come after the United States said this week that it would not send government officials to the 2022 Winter Olympics due to China’s human rights “atrocities”.
“We’ve already made clear that we won’t be there at a ministerial level,” Robertson told reporters in parliament when asked about New Zealand’s position after the U.S. diplomatic boycott of the games, state broadcaster TVNZ said.
Robertson said the move was not due to U.S. decision.
“There was a range of factors but mostly to do with COVID, and the fact that the logistics of travel and so on around COVID are not conducive to that kind of trip,” he said, adding that New Zealand’s decision was communicated to China in October.
He emphasised that New Zealand had raised its human rights’ concerns with China previously.
“We’ve made clear to China on numerous occasions our concerns about human rights issues – as recently as the Prime Minister talking to President Xi. They’re well aware of our view on human rights but we’d already made that decision not to attend,” he said.
(Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Himani Sarkar)