LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that there will be “effectively a diplomatic boycott” of the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games by Britain, which joined the United States and others on Wednesday in a decision to pull its top officials from attendance of the Winter Games.
The boycott means that athletes will be allowed to compete but provides a way for Britain to to publicly condemn of China for its human rights abuses. Australia and Lithuania have also joined the United States in its diplomatic boycott, and some members of British Parliament had pushed for their country to follow suit.
When asked during a question-and-answer session in Parliament whether Britain planned to join the formal diplomatic boycott of the games, the prime minister initially stopped short, saying “we do not support sporting boycotts,” but then confirmed that there were no plans for ministers to attend the Olympics.
Lawmakers pushed Mr. Johnson on the matter and he eventually conceded that the measures did in fact amount to a boycott, showing his reluctance to officially snub China in the same way as the United States.
“There will be effectively a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, no ministers are expected to attend,” Mr. Johnson said. He added: “I do not think that sporting boycotts are sensible.”
There has been pressure in the international community to hold China to account for a range of issues, including the abuse of Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang and the crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, a former British colony.
Last month, when the tennis star Peng Shuai went missing from public life after accusing a top Communist Party official of sexual assault, the calls for accountability gained momentum.