President Joe Biden says U.S. 'considering' diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics

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President Joe Biden said the United States is considering a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics due to human rights abuses in China.

Biden discussed the issue Thursday, telling reporters a diplomatic boycott is, "Something we're considering." Biden held a virtual meeting with China's leader Xi Jinping on Monday. The Beijing Olympics did not come up during that meeting, but Biden did discuss human rights abuses in China, per the White House's briefing.

China is accused of committing crimes against humanity against the Uyghur population in Xinjiang. Allegations against China include forced mass sterilization, forced labor and separating Uyghur families.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump's administration referred to China's treatment of the Uyghurs as "genocide" during Trump's final full day in office in January. Biden's administration used the same term in March.

Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter also brought attention to the situation in October, calling out forced labor practices involving the Uyghur population in Xinjiang.

China denied all human rights violations in Xinjiang.

How would a diplomatic boycott affect U.S. athletes?

If Biden goes through with a diplomatic boycott, the United States would still send athletes to the Beijing Games in 2022. A diplomatic boycott only applies to government officials or dignitaries. 

The United States last boycotted the Olympics in 1980, when the Games were held in Russia. That was a full boycott, meaning athletes from the United States did not attend or compete.

The Beijing Olympics are slated to begin Feb. 4, 2022. 

President Joe Biden during meeting with Justin Trudeau.
President Joe Biden is considering a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)