Cold climate at the Winter Olympics

On the 6th of December the White House announced they will not send a diplomatic delegation to the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2022. This move angered China but it risks to remain an isolated effort by the US without the support of many of their allies

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes. In the last decade of the Cold War, the Olympics Games were not spared by the rivalry between the two Superpowers: The Carter administration decided to boycott the 1980 Games in Moscow, due to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the previous year, and the Russians retaliated the following edition, boycotting the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.

Now, on the 6th of December, the White House announced that “the Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games given the PRC’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses”. If Beijing should decide to retaliate, as Chinese officials have already promised, they will probably boycott the next edition to be hosted by the United States, that is the Summer Games in 2028, once again in Los Angeles. Thus, as the international system returns to a state of polarization like in the past, so too the Olympics are returning into just another field of great power competition, and not just a sport one.

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