UPDATED 7:17 AM PT – Monday, March 22, 2021
Several GOP lawmakers in both chambers of Congress have suggested the the 2022 Winter Olympic Games should be held somewhere else. A group of Republicans called for the U.S. to boycott the games if China remains the host country.
Lawmakers cited the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) human rights violations on several mainland communities, including actions against Uighur Muslims and Hong Kong residents, as reasoning for their opposition.
“But what we’re facing right now, the alternative to boycotting the Olympics is participating in, ” stated Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy.). “…Would be participating in a show that essentially would be whitewashing what the Chinese Communist Party is doing around the world and doing with respect to the Uighurs, and I think that that would be wrong.”
GOP lawmakers in both chambers are leading the charge to mobilize Congress to take action against the CCP. Reps. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.), Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) and John Katko (R-N.Y.) are spearheading efforts in the House with a resolution introduced last month.
The resolution calls on the International Olympic Committee to move the games away from China or face a U.S. withdrawal from the competition. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) has championed similar calls in the Senate and has urged America’s international partners to join America in a possible boycott.
Additionally, former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo believe it’s morally imperative to take action against China. They are likening the CCP’s actions towards their Uighur population to the Holocaust in Germany. The officials added, participating in the Beijing games would send a bad signal to the international community.
“But in the end, we cannot allow American athletes to travel to Beijing and reward the Chinese Communist Party all the while that they doing all of the nasty activity that they’re engaged in,” Pompeo stated. “The world ought to unite…the Olympics are an expression of freedom and athletic talent, and to hold them in Beijing is completely inappropriate.”
However, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texs) has warned lawmakers of the drawbacks of withdrawing. He cited former President Jimmy Carter’s decision to withdraw from the 1980 games in Moscow. The Texas lawmaker said the action aimed to apply pressure on the former Soviet Union for invading Afghanistan, but had no real political effect.
The USSR remained in Afghanistan for nearly a decade after the Olympics and the only people really hurt by the move were America’s top athletes. Cruz believes boycotting the 2022 games would fall on deaf ears and bear similar consequences as the 1980 move.
In the meantime, China has responded to threats of boycotting the games from other countries with threats of their own. Chinese state media outlets have claimed the CCP is prepared to fiercely retaliate against those who go through with boycotts.
This comes as the Biden administration has struggled to set the tone with Chinese officials about U.S.-China relations over the next four years. Last week, Chinese officials lashed out at top U.S. diplomats at bilateral talks in Alaska, which left the Biden administration scratching its head.