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International relations

U.S. considering diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics: Biden

Japan's Kishida says his country will decide issue from its 'own standpoint'

U.S. President Biden made the remarks while hosting leaders of Canada and Mexico at the White House.   © Reuters

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) -- The United States is considering a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics slated for next February, President Joe Biden said Thursday, suggesting that neither he nor any other U.S. government representatives will attend the games.

The diplomatic boycott, under which U.S. athletes are expected to be allowed to compete, is seen as a response to China's alleged human rights abuses against the Muslim Uyghur minority in its far-western Xinjiang region, a course of state action Washington has labeled as "genocide."

Asked about the potential boycott by reporters, Biden said it is "something we are considering." White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki declined to specify what "diplomatic boycott" would mean to the administration, saying during a regular press conference shortly after Biden spoke, "I just don't have an update on...what our presence will be."

Biden's remarks came only days after he held a virtual meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a bid to manage the intensifying rivalry between the two countries over issues ranging from trade to human rights and Taiwan.

U.S. officials said the two leaders did not discuss the Beijing Olympics even though there had been speculation that during the talks, Xi would invite Biden to participate in a ceremony at the global sports event.

In Tokyo, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida did not reveal what his government will do in response to Biden's comments regarding the Beijing Olympics, which will open about five months after the closing of the Summer Olympics and Paralympics in the Japanese capital.

"Each country has its own stance and thoughts. Japan will consider from our own standpoint," Kishida told reporters at the prime minister's office on Friday.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that a formal recommendation of a diplomatic boycott has been made to the president and he is expected to approve it before the end of the month.

The Biden administration will inform allies but leave them to make their own decisions on whether to follow the U.S. lead, the newspaper also said.

In May, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for a diplomatic boycott in light of China's "genocide" against Uyghurs.

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