A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators, led by Mitt Romney (R-UT) has proposed adding an amendment to the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in China.
Reuters reported Thursday the amendment reflects language from China-related legislation the Senate passed in June and the amendment would bar the secretary of state from spending federal funds to “support or facilitate” U.S. government employees attending the Beijing Games. The proposed amendment calls for the boycott in protest of Chinese human rights abuses, particularly against the ethnic minority Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
The amendment calls for an “end to the Chinese Communist Party’s ongoing human rights abuses, including the Uyghur genocide.”
The amendment is co-sponsored by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Todd Young (R-IN).
Under the proposed language of the amendment, funding could still go for U.S. athletes, including the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and its employees and contractors. Romney told Reuters the proposed boycott “will hurt the Chinese Communist Party, rather than punish our American athletes.”
The legislation will instead prevent the U.S. from sending a diplomatic delegation for the games. Countries often send official delegations to the opening ceremonies of other country’s Olympic games.
The move to reintroduce the Olympic boycott language into NDAA comes as the Senate’s previous China legislation has stalled out in the House of Representatives. As it stands, the effort to effect a U.S. government boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics is up against a February deadline before the games are set to begin.
While no formal legislation has passed both houses of Congress and been signed by President Biden, many members of Congress have been vocal in calling for a boycott of the games or a change in the Olympic venue.
In July the European Parliament, comprised of European Union members, voted on a non-binding resolution to boycott the 2022 Beijing Winter Games. The E.U. resolution called for its members “to decline invitations for government representatives and diplomats to attend the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics unless the Chinese Government demonstrates a verifiable improvement in the human rights situation in Hong Kong, the Xinjiang Uyghur Region, Tibet, Inner Mongolia and elsewhere in China.”
The Guardian reported the E.U.’s boycott resolution passed with 578 votes in favor, 29 against, and 73 abstaining.
While the E.U. has passed its resolution for members to avoid sending delegations to the games, and the U.S. considers a similar boycott, it remains unclear if such invitations would even be sent out by China in the first place. Last month, China announced it would not allow foreign spectators for the games, citing COVID-19 concerns.