China shrugs off Australia's diplomatic boycott of 2022 Winter Olympics

China has shrugged off a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics it will host next year.

Australian government officials will not be attending the Beijing Winter Olympics next year, the Prime Minister confirmed on Wednesday, following a similar commitment from the United States to not send dignitaries.

The boycott would be irrelevant, the Chinese embassy in Canberra said in its unique way, quoting an ancient Chinese poem: "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," a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Canberra said in a statement.

The decision to not send dignitaries runs counter to Australia's public claims to seek improved China-Australia relations, the spokesperson said.

The spat would not impact China's welcoming of athletes from around the world, including from Australia.

"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," the spokesperson said.

The Australian Olympic Committee has ruled out any athletes boycotting next year's Winter Olympics.

Scott Morrison said the decision was made due to human rights abuses in China, and that Australia's stance on the issue was "not surprising".

The decision comes after President Joe Biden announced earlier this week the US would not send diplomatic officials to the Olympics, citing the Chinese government's ongoing genocide against minority Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses.

The Prime Minister said while there would be a diplomatic boycott from Australia, athletes would still be attending the games, which begin in February.

"People have been very aware that we have been raising a number of issues that have not been received well in China," Mr Morrison said in Sydney.

"But the human rights abuses in Xinjiang and many other issues that Australia has consistently raised ... the Chinese government has consistently not accepted those opportunities for us to meet about these issues."

The federal government is still supporting the participation of the Australian team - expected to be about 40 athletes - which was welcomed by the AOC.

The AOC also confirmed it had been in contact with athletes, and was entirely confident none would follow the government's lead and stage individual boycotts.

"No athlete has expressed any concern or (intent) to boycott," CEO Matt Carroll said.

"Some of the athletes are already over there or have been to Beijing and the venues. There is no suggestion whatsoever.

"Athletes are entitled to their own opinions. We do advise them to take care, but they want to be focused on the competition.

"No one has expressed they are not going."


While the Chinese government has warned of further sanctions against nations that carry out a boycott of the Olympics, Mr Morrison said such a move would be unacceptable.

"There would be no grounds for that whatsoever," he said.

"I'll always stand up for Australia's interests and what Australians believe is right, and we are living in an uncertain time."

The move comes after growing diplomatic tensions between Australia and China, with China undertaking large amounts of export bans on Australian goods.

Beijing has been critical of Australia's alignment with the AUKUS alliance and the decision to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.

Mr Morrison said the Olympics would still be a "spectacular" sporting event.

The Australian Olympic Committee said it welcomed the government's support for the Olympic team, but indicated politics and sport should remain separate.

Chief executive Matt Carroll said he respected the decision that diplomatic options were a matter for the government.

"The AOC is very focused on ensuring that team members are able to safely travel to China, given the complexity of the COVID environment," he 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."

With AAP

Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

This story 'Political posturing': China responds to PM's Winter Olympics boycott first appeared on The Canberra Times.