Two weeks into its term, the Biden administration is far from settling on a course of action regarding the Olympics, but mid-level diplomats have begun private discussions with key Western allies about how to handle the Games given the genocide declaration, said a foreign diplomat familiar with the matter. The issue could become an early flash point for the administration’s emerging China policy and highlight the challenge President Biden faces in persuading allies to join in a strong condemnation of Beijing’s human rights abuses.
The lucrative event is scheduled to get underway Feb. 4, 2022, and some lawmakers and former U.S. officials have said the image of American athletes marching in an opening ceremony in the Chinese capital while more than 1 million Uighurs are imprisoned in camps in the country’s northwest is an unpalatable one.
“If you’re going to accuse a government of genocide, you can’t then have an Olympics in that country as if it’s a normal place,” said Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), who was assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor in the Obama administration. “There has to be some implication. Some consequence.”