President Joe Biden on Thursday said he was mulling a potential diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Biden floated the possibility of a boycott of the Olympics as members of Congress have called for the administration to use the Games as an opportunity to send a message to China over its human rights violations.
“It’s something we’re considering,” Biden said in response to a question about a boycott in the Oval Office after holding a bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price previously said in April that the prospect of a joint boycott of the Beijing Olympics is “something that we certainly wish to discuss,” with other nations.
An administration official told CNN Wednesday that Biden is not expected to attend the Olympics and that while he has not signed off on preventing government officials from attending, the administration was leaning toward a diplomatic boycott.
The topic was not brought up during Biden’s virtual summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday night, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a press briefing Thursday.
“We see it through the prism of competition, not conflict, that is our objective,” Psaki said of the U.S. relationship with China.
Earlier Thursday, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., called on the Biden administration to mount a full boycott of the games.
“No athletes, no administration officials, no corporate sponsors,” Cotton, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said during a press conference.
Cotton cited China’s treatment of its Uighur population as well as security issues such as “ubiquitous surveillance” during the games, stating the administration has “no plan” to protect U.S. athletes, coaches and Olympics staff.
“For these reasons, the safety and security of our own athletes and China’s crimes against the world, we should launch a complete and total boycott of China’s genocide Olympics,” he said.
In February, a group of three congressmen introduced a resolution calling for a U.S. boycott of the games, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, called for an economic boycott in which the U.S. companies would not sponsor Olympic activities and U.S. spectators would not attend.
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