Canada has joined the U.S. and several other countries and will proceed with a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
This means government officials will stay home rather than go to China, but athletes can continue to compete.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement on Wednesday during a media conference where he was joined by Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge and Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly.
“We are extremely concerned by the repeated human rights violations by the Chinese government. That is why we are announcing today that we will not be sending any diplomatic representation to the Beijing Olympic, Paralympic Games this winter,” Trudeau said.
“Our athletes have been training for years and are looking forward to compete at the highest level against athletes from around the world. They will continue to have all of our fullest support.”
The U.S. was first out of the gate on Monday and announced a diplomatic boycott to protest against human rights abuses in China, in particular towards Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province.
Australia and Britain have since copied what Washington is doing.
China has blasted the U.S. decision and denied the allegations.
“The boycott violates the principle of political neutrality of sports established by the Olympic Charter and runs counter to the Olympic motto ‘more united,'” said a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson.
Many foreign diplomats and international analysts have called on Canada to enforce a full boycott, including athletes.
When questioned about this, Joly said athletes should be kept out of a political dispute.
“Our athletes have worked extremely hard to get there. They have trained hours, they’ve travelled the world, they’ve competed…this is a situation that needs to be dealt with diplomatically and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” she said.
Both Conservative leader Erin O’Toole and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said they approve of a diplomatic boycott.
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