At a press conference on December 8, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Australia "will not be sending any official representatives to the forthcoming Winter Games in China." He cited "the human rights abuses in Xinjiang and the many other issues that Australia has consistently raised" as the reason. This announcement comes two days after the Biden administration's announcement of its diplomatic boycott of the event.
Lithuania has already committed to a diplomatic boycott; and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson today made a similar commitment with the following statement today in response to a question in the House of Commons: “It is clear from what I said earlier on that the Government have no hesitation in raising these issues with China, as I did with President Xi the last time I talked to him. There will be effectively a diplomatic boycott of the winter Olympics in Beijing. No Ministers are expected to attend, and no officials, but what I can tell the House is that I do not think that sporting boycotts are sensible, and that remains the policy of the Government.
[UPDATE: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced a diplomatic boycott today, stating: "For the past many months, we've been in conversation with partners and allies around the world on the issue of the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games. As a country, indeed, as many partners around the world, we are extremely concerned by the repeated human rights violations by the Chinese government. That is why we are announcing today that we will not be sending any diplomatic representation to the Beijing Olympic / Paralympic Games this winter. Our athletes have been training for years and are looking forward to compet[ing] at the highest level against athletes from around the world. And they will continue to have all of our fullest support as they show the extraordinary success that Canada has at the Winter Olympic Games."]
Morrison's full remarks at the press conference, including the Q & A, were as follows:
... it will come as no surprise that the Australian Government will not be sending any official representatives to the forthcoming Winter Games in China. For some time, people have been very aware that we have been raising a number of issues that have have not been received well in China, and there's been a disagreement between us on those matters. We have always been open to meet with the Chinese Government to talk about their concerns, whether it's their concerns with our foreign interference legislation or other foreign investment rules where Australia takes a very strong stand, standing up for Australia's interests. They've been very critical of Australia in our efforts to ensure that we have a strong national defence force, particularly in relation most recently to our decision to acquire nuclear powered submarines. But of course, the human rights abuses in Xinjiang and the many other issues that Australia has consistently raised. We have been very pleased and very happy to talk to the Chinese Government about these issues and and and there's been no obstacle to that occurring on our side. But the Chinese Government has consistently not not accepted those opportunities for us to meet about these issues. So it is not surprising, therefore, that Australian government officials would therefore not be going to China for those games. Australian athletes will, though.
Australia's a great sporting nation and I very much separate the issues of sport and these other political issues. They’re issues between two governments and I would like to see those issues resolved, but they are not resolved. And Australia will not step back from the strong position we've had standing up for Australia's interests and consistent with that position, obviously it is no surprise that we wouldn't be sending Australian officials to those games, but our athletes will be going. ...
Journalist: Just on the Winter Games, is the government worried at all about the economic or political pushback from the Chinese Government for joining the boycott?
Prime Minister: Well, I think that would be completely and utterly unacceptable, and there'd be no grounds for that whatsoever. I'll always stand up for Australia's interests and what Australians believe is right, and we are living in an uncertain time. The world in our part of the Indo-Pacific is uncertain, and that requires leaders to be strong and stand up for Australia and stand up for the things that we believe in and not take a step back and so, I won't be taking a step back here. I'll continue to stand strong as our government will for Australia and everything that we believe in and the role, the positive role we see for a free and open Indo-Pacific. And there are no compromises on that, nor should they be.
Journalist: Just on that note, do you see muscling up to China as being to your political benefit, you just painted yourself there as the strong government in terms of China. How does that play in seats like Banks and Reid, which have large numbers of Chinese Australians?
Prime Minister: I'm doing it because it's in Australia's national interests and it is the right thing to do. Full stop.