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Canadian officials to boycott Olympics: Trudeau

Darpan News Desk The Canadian Press, 08 Dec, 2021 02:12 PM
  • Canadian officials to boycott Olympics: Trudeau

Canada will join a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing next year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday.

The decision comes two days after the United States announced it would send government officials to the Olympics over concerns about China's human rights record, and particularly allegations of genocide against the Muslim Uyghur minority in the Xinjiang province.

Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have all since followed suit. 

Trudeau said Canada too is "extremely concerned by the repeated human rights violations by the Chinese government."

 "I don't think the decision by Canada or by many other countries to choose to not send a diplomatic representation to the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics is going to come as a surprise to China," he said. 

"We have been very clear over the past many years of our deep concerns around human rights violations and this is a continuation of us expressing our deep concerns for human rights violations."

A diplomatic boycott means Canadian athletes can and will still compete but no government officials will attend, including Pascale St-Onge, the new minister of sport.

 While it has been rare in recent years for the prime minister to attend an Olympics, Canada normally sends multiple government representatives including cabinet ministers and often the governor general.

 Last summer, Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough represented the Canadian government at the delayed Tokyo Olympics. In 2018 in Pyeongchang, Trudeau requested then-governor general Julie Payette attend for Canada. Kirsty Duncan, then the sport minister, attended both the Olympics and Paralympics along with several staff members.

 Former governor general David Johnston attended for Canada at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and at the 2012 Summer Games in London.

There were some calls for countries to stage a boycott of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing over human rights concerns, or at least to refuse to attend the opening ceremonies. But former prime minister Stephen Harper rejected that idea and sent his foreign affairs minister, David Emerson, to attend the games, including the opening ceremonies.

China denies allegations of human rights abuses and is accusing the United States of upending the political neutrality of sport. Chinese diplomats slammed the decisions by the U.S. and Australia, accusing countries of using the Olympics as a pawn, and adding several times that "nobody cares" whether diplomats attend the Games.

Mac Ross, a kinesiology professor at Western University's International Centre for Olympic Studies, said Canada is sending a message to China and the International Olympic Committee that it "will not support the hosting of Olympic Games against the backdrop of widespread human rights violations.”

 Ross also said China's accusation that the boycotts politicize the Olympics ignores how many times China itself boycotted the Games.

 

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