After the United States, here is Australia’s turn. Canberra will not send any diplomatic representatives to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, its Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday (December 8th), joining the diplomatic boycott announced by Washington on Monday.
« Australia will not go back on the strong stance it has taken to defend its interests, and it is obviously not surprising that we do not send Australian officials to these Games », did he declare.
Canberra’s decision comes against a backdrop of » disagreement « with China on a number of issues, including Australia’s foreign interference laws and the recent decision to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, Morrison said.
This decision, which does not prevent athletes from participating in the Games, comes the day after the United States announced its diplomatic boycott, in the name of the defense of human rights.
Mr Morrison also said human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s reluctance to meet with Australian officials for discussions motivated the Australian decision. « The Chinese government has never accepted that we meet to discuss these issues », he said.
No impact on the preparation of Australian athletes
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said it respected the government’s decision, adding that it would not impact the Australian team’s preparations.
« The AOC is very attentive to ensuring that team members can travel to China safely, given the complexity of the environment linked to the coronavirus, as our athletes depart from venues abroad »said CEO Matt Carroll.
« Getting athletes to Beijing safely, getting them to compete safely and getting them home safely remains our biggest challenge. », he added.
Around 40 Australian athletes are expected to compete in the Beijing Games, which open on February 4.
Tensions, especially trade, between Australia and China have not stopped growing since 2018, marked in particular by a freeze of diplomatic relations at the highest level for two years.
Strong tensions for several months between Canberra and Beijing
China has been particularly irritated by Australian decisions regarding foreign interference, the ban on 5G contracts to Huawei and the request for an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
A large number of Australian products, including barley, coal, cotton, lobsters, sugar, wine, beef, citrus fruits, grains and dairy products, have all been subject to sanctions by the from its main trading partner.
Australia’s decision to equip its navy with nuclear-powered submarines as part of a new defense pact with Britain and the United States, widely seen as an attempt to counter Chinese influence in the Pacific region, also aroused the ire of Beijing.