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The US on Monday announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics.
This means the president and US officials will not attend, but athletes can participate.
The boycott is due to ongoing "ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity," the White House said.
The White House on Monday announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, citing "ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity" by the Chinese government.
"The athletes on Team USA have our full support. We will be behind them 100% as we cheer them on from home," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a news briefing.
"US diplomatic or official representation would treat these Games as business as usual in the face of the PRC's egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang — and we simply can't do that," she added.
In recent weeks, the Biden administration had been floating the possibility of a diplomatic boycott.
The boycott, which means the US will not send President Joe Biden or other officials to the Games, is largely symbolic but also amounts to a significant political snub that China warned would lead to retaliation.
"Without being invited, American politicians keep hyping the so-called diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, which is purely wishful thinking and grandstanding," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said during a news briefing, per the Associated Press. "If the US side is bent on going its own way, China will take firm countermeasures."
—The Recount (@therecount) December 6, 2021
Biden has made countering China's growing global influence a key foreign policy priority, and his administration has frequently criticized Beijing over human rights abuses. In March, the administration sanctioned China for "genocide" against the Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region.
Human rights groups say the Chinese government has forced over a million Uyghur Muslims and other minorities into detention camps in Xinjiang, though China has fervently denied allegations of genocide. China has been accused of engaging in a campaign of forced sterilization against Uyghur Muslims, on top of mass detention.
The US Holocaust Memorial Museum last month released a report that said it's "gravely concerned that the Chinese government may be committing genocide against the Uyghurs."
"The Chinese government is failing in its legal obligation to prevent this crime," the report said. "The seriousness of the assault on the Uyghur population demands the immediate response of the international community to protect the victims."
The Biden administration's boycott of the Games in Beijing will not go as far as the US boycott of the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow over the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. Neither US athletes nor officials attended the Games that year.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle applauded the Biden administration over the boycott.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, in a statement said that he welcomed the boycott, calling it a "powerful rebuke of the Chinese Communist Party's campaign of genocide in Xinjiang."
Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in a statement commended the administration over the diplomatic boycott and called on other countries to follow the US.
"With the United States now leading by taking a clear stand, I am calling on other countries to join in refusing to send official delegations to the Olympics," Meeks said. "We need to speak with one voice and make clear that silence is not an option when any country, no matter how powerful, grossly undermines universal human rights."
GOP Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah echoed the sentiment.
"The Administration is right to refuse diplomatic presence at the Beijing Olympics: America will not turn a blind eye to China's predation, persecution, and genocide," he tweeted on Monday.
Read the original article on Business Insider