Predictably, Australia has followed the lead of the US and decided to send athletes to next years Winter Olympics in China but will not send any diplomatic representatives.
This decision is pathetic and weak.
The boycott is the result of growing concerns with China and their alleged human rights abuses on numerous fronts. Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated athletes could still attend because “sport and politics should not mix” but that is exactly what he is doing by using Australia’s winter olympians as an excuse for not taking a harder stand.
As upsetting as it would be for our athletes to have their chance at winter gold taken away, this is a prime opportunity for nations like Australia and the US to send a clear message that China needs to change its “all take and no give” attitude towards other nations and improve its treatment of its own citizens. This opportunity has been wasted by settling for a diplomatic boycott.
What does such a boycott prove? It proves nothing. All it means is taxpayer dollars won’t be wasted sending public officials overseas to an event that serves no productive purpose to their roles. Diplomatic personnel attending the Olympics is just a junket.
What governments around the world should be doing is pressuring the IOC to cancel the Beijing games and move the event to another city. The most logical new hosts would be either Pyeong Chang or Sochi who hosted the last two games (2018 and 2014 respectively) and should be able to ready their facilities again relatively quickly. A delay of more than 12 months would be unlikely to move the host city.
This would be the ideal scenario as opposed to Australia not attending the games at all. Such a move would be heartbreaking for our athletes who have trained so hard for so long in preparation.
While China would claim to be an innocent victim of Western propaganda as they always do, this course of action seems to be the only type of thing that might push the CCP to start behaving responsibly on the global stage. As a supposed superpower, the Chinese government behaves with immense immaturity unbefitting of its position.
Now, while an Olympics boycott to that extent alone would probably not affect much change to Chinese foreign policy and human rights abuses, this level of political pressure sustained across many fronts could force their hand.
Instead, the alleged leading powers of the world are offering a meek protest in the form of diplomatic protests. This continual failure to properly hold the CCP to account and bring them into line as a decent global citizen is going to result in nations like Australia sleepwalking into our own downfall.
The time has come to make a serious stand against the negative influence and insidious behaviour of the Chinese government. If doing the right thing means sport and politics have to mix sometimes, then so be it.