State Department Denies Planning to Boycott 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing

Performers dressed as pandas take the stage as Beijing is celebrated as the next host city for the 2022 Winter Olympics during the closing ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Feb. 25, 2018. (Charlie Riedel/AP)

The State Department denied Tuesday evening that it was considering a joint boycott alongside allies of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

“Our position on the 2022 Olympics has not changed. We have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners,” a senior State Department official wrote in an emailed statement to CNBC.

Department spokesman Ned Price had initially suggested during a press briefing earlier on Tuesday that a boycott of the Olympic Games was among the possibilities for addressing China’s human rights abuses.

The Olympic Games are due to take place between Feb. 4 and Feb. 20.

Any discussion of a diplomatic boycott of the Olympic Games would come as the Biden administration works to rally allies to mount international pushback on China. While there is broad bipartisan support for taking a tougher policy stance against China, there is hardly unanimous agreement that a boycott would be the most productive path to pursue.

A former senior Treasury official, who requested anonymity to describe past deliberations on the topic, suggested such a move would reflect a “Cold War statement” on behalf of the United States.

“It’s better to go there and dominate,” the official told CNBC. “It’s better to be Jesse Owens than the Soviets in ’84.” (Owens, a Black American sprinter, won four gold medals at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Nazi Berlin. The Soviet Union boycotted the 1984 games in Los Angeles after the U.S. snubbed the 1980 games in Moscow in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.)

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SOURCE: CNBC, Amanda Macias