Australia announced its diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics on Wednesday, a day after the U.S. decided the same.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison affirmed that no Australian officials would attend the Games.
Just like the Americans, Australia’s boycott will affect only dignitaries and not athletes.
“Australia’s a great sporting nation and I very much separate the issues of sports and these other political issues,” Morrison said, according to the Guardian.
The 53-year-old stated that he wants to ease the tension between the two countries without stepping “back from the strong position we had when standing up for Australia’s interests.”
In response, the Australian Olympic Committee agreed with Morrison’s decision to separate politics and sports from the boycott, saying “diplomatic options are a matter for government” while acknowledging the human-rights issues at hand.
“Our Australian athletes have been training and competing with this Olympic dream for four years now, and we are doing everything in our power to ensure we can help them succeed,” AOC chief executive Matt Carroll said.
“Human rights are extremely important, but the considered view of diplomats is that keeping channels of communication open is far more impactful than shutting them down,” Carroll added.
Moreover, the minister noted that any Chinese retaliation for Australia’s decision to boycott the Games would be “completely and utterly unacceptable and there would be no grounds for that whatsoever.”
The Chinese government accused the U.S. of “posturing and political manipulation,” and some senior officials claimed U.S. dignitaries weren’t invited anyway.
On Tuesday, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian threatened the U.S. with “countermeasures,” claiming the U.S. would “pay a price for its erroneous actions.”
Notably, the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics are slated to begin on Feb. 4.