The State Department said Tuesday that it was considering a possible joint boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics, as calls have grown for the U.S. to back out of the event due to human rights violations in China.
“It is something that we certainly wish to discuss,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said, adding that “a coordinated approach will be not only in our interests but also in the interests of our allies and partners.”
Price emphasized the importance of working closely with other countries, so that any step the U.S. takes would have more influence on Beijing. He said that the State Department is currently weighing different approaches to respond to the Chinese government, pointing to sanctions that the U.S. recently enacted with the U.K., Canada and the European Union over the human rights abuses.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Olympic Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“We’re talking about 2022, and we are still in April of 2021, so these Games remain some time away,” Price said. “I wouldn’t want to put a time frame on it, but these discussions are underway.”
In a tweet after the briefing, Price said that the State Department didn’t have an announcement regarding the Olympics, but would “continue to consult closely with allies and partners to define our common concerns and establish our shared approach to the PRC.”
The Beijing Winter Games begin on February 4 next year.
Hawkish Republicans in the last month have called on the Biden administration to punish the Chinese government over its human rights abuses, but even within the GOP, there has been disagreement over how far to push with the Olympics. Some have called for boycotts, while others have suggested moving the Games to a different host country.
Earlier Tuesday, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said President Joe Biden should request the relocation of the 2022 Olympics to the United States. Scott, who has been advocating for a potential move since 2019, said it was hypocritical for Biden to support last week’s efforts to move Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game out of Georgia over its newly passed voting law, but not take a stand on the Olympics.
“It is now time for President Biden to lead America and the world and make clear that the United States will never tolerate the oppression and genocide occurring in Communist China,” Scott said.
Natasha Bertrand contributed to this report.