LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Wednesday it will join the United States, Canada and Australia in a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, drawing a stern rebuke from China which said Prime Minister Boris Johnson was trying to smear the Games.
The White House announced on Monday that U.S. government officials will boycott the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing over China’s human rights “atrocities,” though the action allows American athletes to travel to compete.
Pressed by two different lawmakers in parliament if Britain would follow suit, Johnson said: “There will be effectively a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, no ministers are expected to attend and no officials.”
“I do not think that sporting boycotts are sensible and that remains the policy of the government,” he added.
China said it had not invited and British ministers.
“The Beijing Winter Olympics is a gathering of Olympic athletes and winter sports lovers across the world, not a tool of political manipulation for any country,” a spokesman for the Chinese embassy said.
“Making an issue out of the presence of government officials at the Beijing Winter Olympics is in essence a political smearing campaign,” the spokesman said.
Canada will join its allies in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing to send China a message over its human rights record, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, Writing by Kylie MacLellan; editing by James Davey, William Maclean)