Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that Canada will launch a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.
No federal government officials will attend the games. Canadian athletes will still be allowed to compete.
The U.S., U.K. and Australia already have announced they won’t send official delegations to the games — a collective attempt to send a message to China that its human rights abuses have not gone unnoticed.
MPs, senators and civil society groups have been pushing the Trudeau government for months to hold China accountable for its crackdown on democratic rights in Hong Kong and the ongoing abuse of the Uyghur Muslim minority.
Earlier this year, the House of Commons passed a motion branding the violence directed at religious minorities in China’s Xinjiang province as “genocide.” That motion followed a Commons subcommittee report that found China persecutes its Muslim minority through mass detention in concentration camps, forced labour, state surveillance and population control measures — policies the report said are designed to “eradicate Uyghur culture and religion.”
In the motion, MPs also called on the federal government to use its influence to pressure the International Olympic Committee to move the games out of China “if the Chinese government continues this genocide.”
Canada-Chinese relations soured after China detained two Canadians — Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig — in an apparent act of retribution for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s 2018 arrest on U.S. fraud charges. In September, the two men were freed by China’s communist regime after the legal dispute involving Meng was partly resolved by U.S. prosecutors.
The western world’s relationship with China has deteriorated over the past two years. China has been accused of covering up early COVID-19 outbreaks and of pushing World Health Organization (WHO) officials to praise its pandemic response rather than scrutinize its actions.