What impact will Washington's Olympic boycott have?

The deliberations have produced a decision: the US will not send a diplomatic delegation to the Beijing Olympics. The White House cited China's "ongoing genocide" of the Muslim Uyghurs and human rights violations as reasons for its decision. Beijing reacted indignantly, threatening that the US will "pay a price for its practices". Europe's press discusses the meaningfulness and consequences of a boycott.

Open/close all quotes
Les Echos (FR) /

Europeans will be the losers

Europe has once again proved too hesitant, Les Echos comments:

“Europeans are again risking their reputation, faced with a decision that is not of their own making. Regarding the boycott they will inevitably take the loser's role - that is already certain. For the Biden administration's decision leads to a veritable contest in terms of moral virtue and 'soft power' from which the US can only emerge as the winner as it was the first to announce the boycott. How difficult it is for Europe to pursue an independent international policy, especially towards China! In the field of sporting 'soft power', too, the Europeans must learn to ski off the slopes.”

Berlingske (DK) /

Simple reference to IOC rings hollow

Denmark should follow the US's example, Berlingske demands:

“Only last week, Social Democratic Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod stated that the Danish government had not yet made an official statement on Denmark's participation, referring to the fact that not China but the International Olympic Committee extends invitations to the Winter Games. However, this explanation rings hollow. No matter who is formally behind the invitations, it's absurd not to look at the country where the Games will be held. The least we can do is point out that China is not a normal country that deserves the opportunity for the internal and external propaganda that the Winter Olympics make possible.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Justified but futile

Lidové noviny doubts the logic of a diplomatic boycott:

“More than a million people in prisons and concentration camps are difficult to reconcile with the Olympic Charter, which speaks of preserving human dignity. ... On the other hand, the Games are becoming more and more expensive. So it's no wonder they sometimes take place in non-democratic countries that don't have to ask their citizens what their money should be spent on. At the same time, such regimes profit most in non-monetary terms from hosting the Games because they gain prestige while criticism of how they treat their citizens dwindles. A boycott by official national delegations does not change this.”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

Athletes must not suffer

Deutschlandfunk hopes that the protest will go no further than a political boycott:

“Athletes worldwide have been preparing for these Games for years. They were not involved in the awarding of the Games to dictatorships and simply have to accept the decision on where they will be held. Imposing a boycott on them would be the wrong approach. Every athlete has the option of not participating in the Games for personal reasons, but very few will want to or be able to skip them. Among other things because they earn their money with sport - and especially with Olympic participation. It is wrong to make athletes pay with a sporting boycott for what governments have ignored for too long.”