UK Ministers, Officials Won’t Attend Beijing Winter Olympics, Johnson Says

By Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou is a freelance writer mostly covering UK news for The Epoch Times.
December 8, 2021 Updated: December 8, 2021

There will be “effectively a diplomatic boycott” of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday, as he said that there are no plans for any ministers to attend the games.

But the prime minister stopped short of officially calling it a diplomatic boycott, maintaining that the government doesn’t support sporting boycotts.

During Prime Minister’s Questions in Parliament, Johnson was urged to join the United States and a number of other countries in boycotting the controversial event over the Chinese communist regime’s notorious human rights record.

Responding to the request by Scottish National Party MP Kirsten Oswald, Johnson said: “As I said before, we do not support sporting boycotts, but there are no plans for ministers to attend the Winter Olympics.”

Begged to go further and “give a lead for human rights” by declaring a boycott, the prime minister told former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith “there will be effectively a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing.”

“No ministers are expected to attend. … And no officials,” he said.

“But what I can tell the house is that I do not think that sporting boycotts are sensible. That remains the policy of the government.”

Duncan Smith welcomed Johnson’s announcement and said he hoped “many other countries will follow suit.”

Johnson’s comments left open the prospect that members of the royal family could still attend—Anne, Princess Royal, is president of the British Olympic Association and a member of the International Olympic Committee.

Asked if the UK is officially boycotting the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and if any member of the royal family will attend, a member of Downing Street press office referred The Epoch Times back to the prime minister’s remarks in Parliament.

The United States and Australia have announced diplomatic boycotts over Beijing’s record on human rights, particularly the treatment of the Uyghur Muslim community in Xinjiang province.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was announcing a boycott because it is “the right thing to do.”

In Australia’s case, it was not only human rights concerns but also a series of political disputes with Beijing that had triggered the move—including the Aukus pact with the UK and United States over nuclear-powered submarines.

He said his government was very happy to talk to China about their differences “but the Chinese government has consistently not accepted those opportunities for us to meet.”

Lithuania and New Zealand also said they won’t send officials to the games, with New Zealand citing COVID-19 as the main reason.

The Cabinet Office and the Foreign Office didn’t respond to The Epoch Times’ requests for comment at the time of publishing.

PA contributed to this report.

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