By: Anna Dunlap
On Monday, December 6th, the U.S. announced they will not send people to represent the U.S. to the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing as a protest of human rights, but the U.S. athletes will still compete. The U.S. officials said the boycott is over human rights “atrocities” in China.
Last summer, Senator Rick Scott sent a letter to NBC Universal asking them to pressure the International Olympic Committee to relocate the games and even threaten not to air them. A representative for the network responded that “refusing to air the Games to a U.S. audience would only hurt Americans, Team USA Olympians and Paralympians, many of whom have trained for much of their lives to compete in a single Games, who would be denied the opportunity to shine in front of family, friends and fans; and the U.S. audience, who would be deprived of the opportunity to cheer on and take pride in the athletes who represent our country.”
The International Olympic Committee issued a statement on the U.S. boycott Monday. “The presence of government officials and diplomats is a purely political decision for each government, which the IOC in its political neutrality fully respects. At the same time, this announcement also makes clear that the Olympic Games and the participation of the athletes are beyond politics, and we welcome this.” Calls for boycotts have been going on for decades.
When China hosted the Summer Games in 2008, there were many calls for a boycott due to the same reasons. Steven Spielberg even withdrew as an artistic adviser to the games. In 1980, the United States led a boycott of the Summer Olympic Games in Moscow to protest the late 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In total, 65 nations refused to participate in the games, and 80 countries still sent athletes to compete.
Many other countries have boycotted in the past as well. In 1956, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Netherlands, Cambodia, Spain, Switzerland, and the People's Republic of China boycotted the Melbourne Olympics as they supported Israel's invasion of Egypt in an attempt to regain control over the Suez Canal. Many of the same countries and more also boycotted the 1976 Montreal Olympics due to protests against the ongoing All Blacks tour of South Africa, the African nations demanded that the International Olympic Committee exclude New Zealand from the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Boycotting the Olympics has been done for a long time in order to make a statement about an important issue to a country.