Should Europe attend the Winter Games in China?

While US diplomats will boycott the Winter Olympics in China, the EU is at odds over how to proceed. French President Emmanuel Macron declared that a purely political boycott would be pointless without a sporting boycott. Most European governments agree with Macron's all-or-nothing approach, but still want Europe to participate in the Games. Europe's press examines the arguments for a half or full boycott.

Open/close all quotes
Seznam Zprávy (CZ) /

Why China deserves this punishment

Even the absence of diplomatic delegations will have an impact, Seznam Zprávy believes:

“A diplomatic boycott may seem like an empty gesture at first glance, but it will hurt Beijing. ... Will a diplomatic boycott of the Games further aggravate relations between China and the Euro-Atlantic world? Perhaps. But Beijing has chosen this path itself - by persecuting minorities, by cracking down on demonstrators in Hong Kong and by brazenly lying at the start of the Covid pandemic.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Half a boycott is of little use

But Der Standard argues that only concerted joint action can really hurt Beijing:

“Luxembourg's chief diplomat Jean Asselborn is certainly right when he says that it is highly questionable for political leaders to send athletes to China but only 'watch on TV how things are going in the biathlon'. ... French President Emmanuel Macron is of the same opinion. Indeed, he even argued that the EU should either not send athletes at all or it should send a joint international message in a different way. This 'all or nothing' stance is no longer heard, but it would be an approach for the future.”

L'Humanité (FR) /

Sport as a cover

States make things too easy for themselves by boycotting sporting events, Humanité criticises:

“Why should only sport be the subject of boycotts? No one is demanding that trade with China be stopped or contracts with Qatar be cancelled. If countries are ostracised, it should not only be in connection with sporting events. But sport, which has a high public profile, is an easier target than culture or the economy. Here the contradiction becomes clear: it's easy to appease one's conscience by making a spectacular example of sport - without touching other activities or trade.”