So far Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Lithuania have said they won’t send government officials to the 2022 Winter Olympic games hosted in Beijing, with New Zealand citing COVID-19 as the main reason, after the United States unveiled its own diplomatic boycott. This past week saw the above-named English speaking allies of the US joining Washington's boycott while citing longstanding criticisms of China's human rights record.
And now Japan has joined the growing list, as Al Jazeera writes, "Senior Japanese government officials will likely skip the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February, joining the United States in a diplomatic boycott, the Yomiuri newspaper reported on Saturday, citing multiple sources with knowledge of the matter."
China has condemned the diplomatic boycott movement as "political posturing" while suggesting that in reality Chinese citizens could care less if American leaders don't attend, saying they weren't invited anyway. But America's ability to get other influential nations to follow suit will be hard for China to ignore, after its officials warned of unnamed retaliatory measures on the table.
Here's more from the Saturday report:
Japan’s national broadcaster NHK also confirmed the report saying Tokyo "is leaning toward not sending cabinet ministers to the upcoming Beijing Olympics".
The only officials now expected to attend are Olympics-related personnel, including Seiko Hashimoto, the former head of Tokyo’s Olympic organizing committee, the newspaper said.
Late last month as reports began to surface suggesting that Tokyo is mulling a diplomatic boycott, Chinese officials began warning against mixing sports and politics. Beijing reminded Japanese leaders that China had "fully supported" Japan's summer Olympics.
"China fully supported Japan in hosting the Tokyo Olympics" this summer, so "Japan should have basic faith," Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters in late November.
Japan's Yomiuri newspaper reported on Saturday that senior Japanese government officials will likely skip #Beijing2022, joining the list of countries that have announced a diplomatic boycott of the game. https://t.co/2y0JU6eirv— William Yang (@WilliamYang120) December 11, 2021
The suggestion was that it would surely lead to a break down in positive relations, also coming as Japan has increasingly joined the US on the contested Taiwan issue:
China "firmly opposes" Japan's politicizing sports, Zhao said, adding the two Asian nations should have "important consensus on mutual support for each other's hosting" of the Olympics.
But at this point Japan's government has yet to confirm a full government diplomatic boycott, which means it may just send lower officials - yet the symbolism will still be insulting enough in Beijing's eyes.