Danish government under pressure to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics

Several countries including the United States, Australia, Belgium, and the UK have already decided to boycott the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympic Games diplomatically in protest against China’s repression of democracy and separatist movements in Hong Kong and Taiwan and not least the treatment of the Muslim minority of Uighurs in Xinjiang province. 

But with under a month to go until kick-off, the Danish government has yet to make a decision and is under massive pressure, DR News writes.

Minister of Culture Ane Halsboe Jørgensen and Minister of Foreign Affairs Jeppe Kofod refuse to be interviewed on the very grounds that the government has not yet decided whether it wants to boycott the Games diplomatically.

To DR News, Eva Flyvholm, foreign affairs spokeswoman for the Unity List, says: “Now the government must get together, they have had time to think about this for a long time and we must know where the country stands”.

“In relation to human rights, it’s really important that Denmark draws a line, both when it comes to China, but also when it comes to the World Cup in Qatar,” she says.

Foreign policy spokesman from the Liberal Party, Michael Aastrup wonders why the Danish government has yet to decide and says, “Almost every day we see that China takes new steps and crosses the line in relation to freedom of speech in Hong Kong, in relation to the aggression against Taiwan and in relation to the oppression of the Muslim minority in the country.”

Michael Aastrup does not believe Denmark is risking more than 70 years of diplomatic cooperation with China. “No, because now it’s very simple; we have to choose a side. The United States and a large number of our allies have made it clear that they want a diplomatic boycott. Since they made the announcement so clearly, we should also join them and stand on the right side,” he says. 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said that the committee considers other countries’ government’s presence to be a political decision that each country must make, which IOC “in its political neutrality fully respects”.

Several Danish political parties believe a diplomatic boycott is a good idea which they would rather see happen in cooperation with other EU countries.

Stanis Elsborg, a senior analyst from Play the Game, which works to promote democracy, transparency, and freedom of speech in world sport, has long followed the debate on the diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Games.

“For me, it testifies that China is a major political power, and Denmark is in the process of a very, very difficult balancing act to figure out how to deal with the situation in China because the country is also a big and important partner,” he says. 

The Winter Olympics are scheduled to start on 4 February 2022 and end on 20 February 2022.

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

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