Johnson Against Boycotting Beijing Olympics Over Human Rights, but Would Consider It

By Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou
July 7, 2021 Updated: July 7, 2021

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that while he would “certainly consider” boycotting the Beijing Olympics over China’s human rights track record, he’s “instinctively” against the proposal.

Johnson made the remarks during a Prime Minister’s Questions session on July 7 after Conservative MP Tim Loughton asked him to support a motion calling for a diplomatic boycott of the event.

“Will the prime minister, therefore, support our motion to be debated in this house next Thursday, calling for a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics—incredibly awarded to Beijing—until and unless this dangerous regime abides by basic international standards of decency?” Loughton asked.

Loughton, one of five MPs sanctioned by the Chinese regime for speaking out against alleged genocide and crimes against humanity in China’s far-western Xinjiang region, mentioned Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s threats last week that anyone attempting to “bully” China will “have their heads bashed bloody against the Great Wall of steel.”

Loughton also mentioned that Xi is still denying allegations about human rights violations and genocide in Xinjiang and Tibet, which have been recognized by a number of legislatures around the world, including the UK’s House of Commons.

Replying to the question, Johnson told Parliament that the UK “has led the world in condemning human rights abuses in Xinjiang,” sanctioning those responsible, and holding to account companies that “import goods made with forced labor in Xinjiang.”

But the prime minister said he isn’t in favor of boycotting the Beijing Olympics.

“I will certainly consider that, the proposals debated, but I must say that I’m instinctively and always have been against sporting boycotts,” he said.

Loughton submitted the debate a month ago alongside a cross-party Early Day Motion tabled by former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, who is also on Beijing’s sanctions list, Labour Party MP Siobhain McDonagh, Liberal Democrats MP Alistair Carmichael, and others, calling for UK officials to boycott the games.

The motion says that Parliament “notes with concern that the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will take place alongside a rapidly deteriorating human rights situation” in Xinjiang.

It urges the International Olympics Committee to initiate an emergency search process for suitable replacement facilities for the 2022 Winter Games, and calls on the UK government not to send any state officials as long as the event is held in Beijing.

The motion also urges the government to “discourage” companies from sponsoring the games and asks individual athletes to “think carefully” about whether or not they should attend.

The proposals are part of a coordinated campaign by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, in which a group of international lawmakers are pushing for the boycott of the Beijing Olympics.

Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou