world
Thursday Dec 09 2021
By
Reuters

France to opt out of widening western diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics

By
Reuters
A staff member holds a safety lantern of the Olympic flame for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, during a ceremony of the flame exhibition tour at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications in Beijing, China December 9, 2021. — Reuters.
A staff member holds a safety lantern of the Olympic flame for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, during a ceremony of the flame exhibition tour at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications in Beijing, China December 9, 2021. — Reuters.

  • French education minister stresses that any human rights abuses in China must be condemned.
  • French FM suggests Paris should take a common stand with other European Union countries on a possible diplomatic boycott.
  • US, Canada, Australia and Britain announce their officials will not attend the Games to send China message over its human rights record.


France will not follow the lead of some other Western governments and boycott the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February, French education minister said on Tuesday, but stressed that any human rights abuses in China must be condemned.

However, the French foreign minister said Paris should take a common stand with other European Union countries on a possible diplomatic boycott.

He said violations of human rights in China must be condemned, but added that Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu would attend the Beijing Olympics. Paris is due to host the summer Games in 2024.

The Western diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics widened this week with Britain, Canada and Australia joining the United States in announcement of not attending the Games, prompted by what the allies argue are widespread rights abuses by China.

"As for a diplomatic boycott...France will not do it," Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said on BFM TV. "Sports is a world in itself, which must be protected from political interference."

Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu will attend the Beijing Olympics, he said. But violations of human rights in China must be condemned, he added.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, speaking at a joint news conference with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock in Paris - said there was a need for a common European stand on the issue of a diplomatic boycott of the Games in Beijing.

Paris is due to host the summer Olympic Games in 2024.

China on Tuesday had warned that the US would "pay the price" for a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics over human rights concerns.

The US move — which stopped short of preventing athletes from attending — comes after Washington spent months wrangling over what position to take on the Games, beginning in February next year, over what it has termed China's "genocide" of the Uyghur minority.

The move drew fiery opposition from Beijing, which threatened unspecified countermeasures, warning the US would "pay the price for its wrongdoing".


Additional input from AFP.