Canberra’s move to join US diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics comes amid “disagreement” with China over a number of issues that have plunged relations into the worst crisis since the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.
Hours after Australia announced its decision to follow the United States in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics, the Chinese embassy in Australia reacted to the move and said that accountability lies with the Australian side to fix the “current predicament” in the ties between the two countries. “Mountains cannot stop the river from flowing into the sea,” the Chinese embassy spokesperson said while observing that Australia’s success at the Beijing Winter Olympics depends on the performance of its athletes and not on the attendance of officials.
Notably, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday that no officials will be sent to February’s Winter Olympics in Beijing. Canberra’s decision comes amid “disagreement” with China over a slew of issues that have plunged relations into the most serious crisis since the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), however, has clarified that their government’s decision to join the US diplomatic boycott of next year’s Beijing Olympics will have no impact on athletes’ preparations for the Winter Games.
Acknowledging the AOC president’s remarks on the participation of Australian athletes, the Chinese embassy spokesperson said, “We wish the Australian athletes excellent performance at the Winter Olympics and believe they will also witness a streamlined, safe and splendid Olympics in China.”
Taking quick note of the bilateral ties between the two nations, the Chinese embassy spokesperson said, “As we all know, the blame for the current predicament of China-Australia relations lies squarely on the Australian side.”
“According to Olympic rules, dignitaries are invited by their respective National Olympic Committee (NOC) to attend the Olympic Games,” the embassy statement said. “It is up to the NOC to decide whether to extend invitations or not. Mountains can not stop the river from flowing into the sea. Australia’s success at the Beijing Winter Olympics depends on the performance of Australian athletes, not on the attendance of Australian officials, and the political posturing by some Australian politicians.”
Urging the Australian side to take practical measures to create favorable conditions for improving bilateral relations, the Chinese official said, “The Australian side’s statement that it will not send officials to the Beijing Winter Olympics runs counter to its publicly pronounced expectation to improve China-Australia relations.”
The AOC had earlier said in a statement that it respected how “diplomatic options” were a matter for governments and maintained that politics and sport should be separated.
Meanwhile, Australian PM Scott Morrison insists that the strained relations with Beijing had left Australia unable to discuss China’s moves to slow and block imports of Australian goods as well as alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang, the reason behind the US boycott.
“Australia will not step back from the strong position we’ve had standing up for Australia’s interests and obviously it is of no surprise that we wouldn’t be sending Australian officials to those Games,” Morrison said.