Call for diplomatic boycott of 2022 Winter Olympics in China made by East Worthing and Shoreham MP

A call for a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics Games due to be held in Beijing next year has been made by East Worthing and Shoreham’s MP.

Tim Loughton did not go as far as pressing for a full sporting boycott as he said this would victimise most the elite athletes who ‘dedicate so much to compete every four years’.

But he criticised China for the ‘atrocities’ taking place in the Xinjiang region against the Uyghur population.

He called on the government to decline invitations for its representatives to attend the games so that no ministers, diplomats, royal family members or other VIPs ‘dance to the tune of the Chinese Communist Party’.

A general view of the athletes' village for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Speaking in the House of Commons last week, Mr Loughton said the move would emphasise that the country ‘will not turn a blind eye to the industrial scale human rights abuses’.

His comments follow China’s decision in March to impose sanctions on several UK citiziens, including the long-time MP.

He added: “A diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics is a measure available to the UK that may contribute to preventing genocide from being committed in the Xinjiang region.

“That is precisely because the Olympics has been identified as a key pressure point on China. China is seeking to use the Olympics to portray a positive image to the world and has already threatened a robust response to the suggestion that US diplomats may decline to attend.

“Such comments reveal its acute sensitivity to the spotlight that a diplomatic boycott would shine on its human rights abuses, and highlight the corresponding leverage that the international community has.

“We are therefore under an obligation to prevent and punish the crime of genocide, as set down in the convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide.

“This House has already determined that a very credible case exists that atrocities have been carried out by the Chinese Government against the Uyghur people in Xinjiang, amounting to crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide.

“In passing the motion today, we will be therefore fulfilling our obligations and doing our job. I very much hope that the Minister will confirm that the Government will now take their obligations seriously and do their job by implementing the terms of the motion.”

In response, Nigel Adams, minister for Asia, said no decisions have yet been made about UK Government attendance at the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

The participation of Team GB at the Olympics and Paralympics is a matter for the British Olympic Association and the British Paralympic Association and operate independently of the government.

But he argued the UK had ‘consistently taken a leading international role in holding China to account’ and had used its diplomatic influence to raise the issue up the international agenda.