Australia is considering a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in China, according to reports. The news comes after US President Joe Biden said he was contemplating the step.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Thursday that the Australian federal government is being urged by politicians from the ruling Liberal-National coalition and opposition Labor party to boycott the event in Beijing, which takes place in February.
The Australian government is said to be waiting for a final decision from the Biden administration before making its own call on the issue.
One option being considered would involve Australia not sending any officials to the event but refraining from publicly calling it a boycott. Under a diplomatic boycott athletes would still compete at the Games.
A spokesperson for Sports Minister Richard Colbeck said a decision “is yet to be made,” Reuters reported.
Were the US, Australia or other allies to boycott the Beijing Games, they would do so in supposed protest at China’s human rights record.
China has been criticized for issues such as the treatment of its Uyghur Muslim population, and more recently came under fire when tennis player Peng Shuai ‘disappeared’ after appearing to make sexual assault allegations against a former top Communist Party official.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) boss Thomas Bach recently held a video call with Peng in which she said she was safe. Some have claimed that is not enough to verify the wellbeing of the former world doubles number one.
In September, Australia entered into a security partnership with the US and UK to help Australia build nuclear submarines – a deal which infuriated France after it already had an agreement with Canberra.
The new trilateral deal was widely seen as being aimed at curbing rising Chinese power in the Indo-Pacific region.
Elsewhere, Australia’s relations with China were damaged when it banned Huawei Technologies from its 5G broadband network in 2018.
Australia was also among the countries to call for an independent investigation into the origins of Covid-19.
China remains Australia’s biggest trading partner despite the ruptures in relations.