Biden says WH is considering diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics

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President Joe Biden said on Thursday that the U.S. was weighing a diplomatic boycott of the coming Winter Olympics in Beijing, a move that proponents say would be a highly visible rebuke of the Chinese government and its human rights record.

Biden told reporters convened for the president’s trilateral meeting with the leaders of Canada and Mexico that the idea of a boycott was “something we are considering.”

There is bipartisan support in Congress and from outside groups to slight China by barring U.S. officials from attending the games in protest of the government’s human rights abuses, including what the Biden administration has labeled the genocide of religious minorities in Xinjiang.

The issue has gotten increased attention in the days surrounding Biden’s virtual meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping earlier this week. The two spoke to each other for roughly 3½ hours on Monday about a host of topics, including human rights and the two countries’ positions on Taiwan.

However, key congressional leaders are not yet on board with the idea, and Biden’s comments on Thursday did not give much insight into which direction the White House was leaning.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to get into more specifics about what options are under consideration, but said that “there’s a range of factors as we look at what our presence would be.”

“I want to leave the president space to make decisions,” she said in a briefing to reporters.

Still, the remarks were clearer than the answer he gave two days prior as he headed aboard Air Force One on the way back from a trip to New Hampshire to promote the recently signed infrastructure legislation.

When asked on Tuesday whether there would be a government delegation to the Olympics, Biden responded, “I’m the delegation, and I dealt with it.”

The White House subsequently clarified that Biden’s comments did not indicate a change to the administration’s position on the issue.

The president did not attend this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo, which were pushed back a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the U.S. did send a delegation that was headed up by first lady Jill Biden.

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