The Austrian Foreign Minister Karl Nehammer has confirmed that it will not send any high-ranking politicians to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, but justifies their absence with the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic and rules out the diplomatic boycott of the United States.
“This is not a diplomatic protest or a boycott, the fact is that the requirements due to the pandemic in China are very high for good reason,” he said in an interview with the German newspaper ‘Welt’ published on Tuesday.
The restrictions imposed by the pandemic in China could result in politicians not meeting with athletes from their own country and travel around the world for video calling being pointless, according to Nehammer.
“That’s why I prefer to meet our athletes in Vienna personally,” he said, emphasizing that Austria was “against” the politicization of the Olympic Games.
The United States, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia have announced their intention to diplomatic boycott of the event, where athletes from their respective countries will compete normally. Other countries such as South Korea or France have already ruled out joining.
China has been criticized several times for alleged human rights violations in the Xinjiang region, home of the Uighur ethnic minority, or for the stifling of the democratic opening movement in Hong Kong.