UK Minister Hints at Diplomatic Boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

By Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou is a freelance writer mostly covering UK news for The Epoch Times.
November 25, 2021 Updated: November 26, 2021

A diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics over alleged human rights abuses in China may be on the table, a British Cabinet minister hinted on Thursday.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the House of Commons, told MPs that “no tickets have been booked” for any UK ministers to attend the games in February.

The remark—the first time a UK minister hinted at the possibility of boycotting Beijing Olympic games next year—came a week after U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters the White House was “considering” backing a boycott.

When questioned by former Conservative Party leader Sir Ian Duncan Smith on whether an urgent debate will be arranged regarding whether the government should “boycott the Winter Olympics which should never have been awarded to this despotic regime,” Rees-Mogg said, “It is right that the communist government is reminded of its moral obligations.”

While repeating the UK government’s long-standing policy that it “does not think that sporting boycotts work,” as a number of ministers have maintained in the past months when pressed about a boycott, the Commons leader gave what looks like a hint at a diplomatic boycott for the first time.

It’s a matter for the Olympic Committee to decide whether or not the athletes should attend the games, but “as regards [to] government ministers, whether they would wish to go to the People’s Republic of China, I can tell the honorable gentleman that no tickets have been booked.” he said.

A Whitehall source told The Epoch Times ministers are yet to make a decision on government attendance of the games.

Duncan Smith, a member of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), said while Rees-Mogg’s comment is welcome, the UK government should publicly confirm a boycott.

“Today’s announcement that government ministers are not planning to attend the Beijing Winter Olympics, whilst welcome, isn’t as yet a clear public statement,” he said.

“The Games will take place while the Chinese government commits industrial scale human rights abuses in the Uyghur Region, Tibet, and sends near daily military incursions into Taiwan’s airspace. Add to that their arrest of peaceful democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong and the list of human rights abuses is enormous.”

The senior Tory added “that is why the UK government must now go one further and publicly confirm that no ministers, diplomats, or other British officials will attend the games. We cannot lend any legitimacy to China’s despotic regime.”

IPAC, a cross-party, international network of some 200 lawmakers, has been advocating for a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in more than ten legislatures around the world.

Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou is a freelance writer mostly covering UK news for The Epoch Times.