INTERNATIONAL NEWS - The US should boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in China, former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley said Sunday, becoming the latest Republican to join a growing furor over the Games and Beijing's rights record.
"We must boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in China," Haley, a one-time close ally of former president Donald Trump and herself a presidential hopeful, tweeted.
"It would be a terrible loss for our athletes, but that must be weighed against the genocide occurring in China and the prospect that empowering China will lead to even greater horrors down the road."
The Games are scheduled to begin on February 4 next year, just six months after the delayed summer Tokyo Olympics, but preparations for both have been overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic.
China is facing global scrutiny over a range of issues, notably the mass internment of Uighur Muslims in the western region of Xinjiang, which the US has said amounts to genocide.
It is also under pressure for its rights clampdown in the former British colony of Hong Kong, and for its stance toward Taiwan, the self-ruled democratic island which Beijing considers part of its territory.
Republican congressman John Katko earlier this week wrote to President Joe Biden to urge a boycott.
"Participation in an Olympics held in a country that is openly committing genocide not only undermines those shared values but casts a shadow on the promise for all those who seek free and just societies," Katko wrote in the letter, posted on his House website.
And earlier this month a group of US senators introduced a resolution seeking to remove the Games from China, urging the International Olympics Committee to allow new bids so the Games can be "hosted by a country that recognizes and respects human rights."
Earlier this month, a coalition of 180 rights organizations also called for a boycott.
The White House has signaled no change in approach.
In a statement to AFP earlier this month, the International Olympic Committee said that concerns raised by campaign groups, including over rights, "were and are raised with the government and local authorities."
China's foreign ministry has previously dismissed the concerns, calling them "politically motivated" and "very irresponsible."
Beijing has been under growing pressure, particularly over the fate of its Uighur minority.
Rights groups believe that at least one million Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslim minorities are incarcerated in camps in Xinjiang.
After initially denying the camps existed, the Chinese government abruptly acknowledged them, saying they were vocational training centers aimed at reducing the allure of Islamic extremism.