The U.S. has publicly raised the threat of a joint boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in China with its allies and partners, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said during a press conference on Tuesday.
Why it matters: An Olympics boycott by the U.S. and its allies could help persuade the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into Beijing's actions in Xinjiang, human rights lawyer Djaouida Siaci tells Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian.
Context: This would be the first U.S. Olympic boycott since Moscow in 1980 and comes as the Biden administration attempts to hold Beijing accountable for its sweeping campaign against ethnic minorities in the far west region of Xinjiang.
- Republican Sen. Mitt Romney has called for an economic and diplomatic boycott.
What they're saying: "[A joint boycott] is something that we certainly wish to discuss," Price said. "A coordinated approach will be not only in our interest but also in the interest of our allies and partners."
- "So, this is one of the issues that is on the agenda, both now and going forward, and when we have something to announce, we will be sure to do that."
Between the lines: Secretary of State Tony Blinken warned Beijing last month that the U.S. is willing to "push back":
- “China uses coercion and aggression to systematically erode autonomy in Hong Kong, undercut democracy in Taiwan, abuse human rights in Xinjiang and Tibet, and assert maritime claims in the South China Sea that violate international law."
The big picture: The U.S., U.K., European Union and Canada all announced sanctions in March against Chinese officials involved in human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims.
- China retaliated with sanctions against the U.S., U.K., EU and Canadian officials.
- Sponsors of the 2022 Olympics are under pressure to pull out, or at least speak out against China's human rights abuses, Axios' Kendall Baker and Dave Lawler report.
- Over 160 human rights groups called on the International Olympic Committee last September to revoke the 2022 Winter Olympic Games from China.
What's next: Pay attention to whether Beijing seeks to pressure U.S. companies and Olympics sponsors.