: How the U.S. Boycott of the Beijing Olympics Is Splitting the World #WorldNEWS The last time the U. S. boycotted an Olympic Games, China joined in—withdrawing from the 1980 Moscow Games along
How the U.S. Boycott of the Beijing Olympics Is Splitting the World #WorldNEWS
The last time the U. S. boycotted an Olympic Games, China joined in—withdrawing from the 1980 Moscow Games along with at least 44 other nations, ostensibly to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Chinese leaders even sent 18 athletes to the Liberty Bell Classic in Philadelphia, which was billed as the “alternative” to the main event in Moscow. In a Cold War tit-for-tat, the Soviet Union and its allies withheld their athletes from the next Summer Olympics, the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.
Four decades later, China is now the subject of an Olympic boycott movement. The U. S. , U. K. , Canada and Australia have joined together for a diplomatic boycott—no government officials will attend the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, though athletes from the countries will still compete. Japan said it will also withhold high-level government officials, but will send Olympic officials and athletes.
The diplomatic boycott of Beijing neither approaches the scale, nor the severity of the Cold War-era boycotts. Other U. S. allies like South Korea and France have said they will not participate in the diplomatic boycott. And, with China already announcing strict COVID-19 protocols, including mandatory quarantine, far fewer dignitaries were likely to travel to Beijing anyway.
But the move marks the end of a global detente over the Olympics that has lasted since the end of the Cold War—sustaining through the first Beijing Olympics in 2008, and the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Experts say this may only be the beginning.
China has responded furiously, accusing the boycotting nations of politicizing sports and threatening that they would “pay a price for their erroneous actions. ” If tensions do not ebb, Chinese officials could consider a similar move—or other punitive measure—for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, observers say.
Olympic Boycotts: A 2,300-Year History
Jerry Cooke–Corbis/Getty ImagesA total of 67 nations did not participate at the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics—at least 45 of which withdrew as a result of the U. S. -led boycott.
Boycotts aren’t new to the Olympics: In 332 BCE, Athens threatened to withdraw from the ancient games after one of the citys athletes was accused of fixing a match by bribing his opponents. In the modern era, however, countries’ Olympic boycotts have become a showcase for major geopolitical disputes. Though a specific action or policy is usually given as justification for the boycott announcement—as with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan—wider political tensions have been at the heart of the decision.
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