'Insignificant and symbolic': French President Macron on boycott of Beijing Olympic games

  • A number of countries including Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada have announced a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in China over concerns of human rights violations in the country.
French president Emmanuel Macron.(File Photo / REUTERS)
French president Emmanuel Macron.(File Photo / REUTERS)
Updated on Dec 10, 2021 01:39 PM IST
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The attempt to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics is "insignificant," said French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday and said his country has no plan to join the US and western nations in doing the same. Macron said the boycott was "a symbolic step" and will not have a useful outcome.

A number of countries including Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada have announced a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in China over concerns of human rights violations in the country.

The boycott also came in the backdrop of the sudden disappearance of Chinese tennis player Peng Shua, who is untraceable since she made sexual assault allegations against a former vice premier, three weeks ago.

"I didn't hear anybody in the world say: let's not send our athletes. So we're talking about something rather symbolic," Macron said during a news conference on Thursday, as per local media reports.

Instead, the French president said France would work with the International Olympic Committee on a charter guaranteeing the protection of athletes "given what has happened over recent weeks”. "I don't think we should politicise these topics, especially if it's to take steps that are insignificant and symbolic," he added.

"To be clear: You either have a complete boycott, and not send athletes, or you try to change things with useful actions," Macron also said.

In the backdrop of multiple reports claiming human rights violations in China under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party (CPP), the US, the UK, Canada and Australia have said they will not send government representatives to the Beijing Games, slated to be held in February.

This includes allegations of abuse against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang regions, where according to reports, China has detained over a million people of minorities, in a large network of what the state calls "re-education camps." Since 2016, several reports have come into the light detailing the brutal policies of China including "forced birth control and sterilisation" of Uyghur ethnic groups.

Earlier in the day, an independent UK tribunal also said that the country is committing genocide against predominantly Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

However, China denies any wrongdoing, saying allegations of human rights abuses are "fabricated" and "motivated."

Reacting to the boycott call, China on Thursday said the countries "will pay the price for their mistaken acts".

"The US, Australia, Britain and Canada's use of the Olympic platform for political manipulation is unpopular and self-isolating, and they will inevitably pay the price for their wrongdoing," foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters.

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