WASHINGTON — The Trump administration signaled on Wednesday that it would not send government officials to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The decision is a victory for human rights advocates who strongly opposed the proposed delegation, arguing that it would send the wrong message to China about reform and would be a tacit acceptance of their brutal crackdown on demonstrators in 1989. The administration itself has repeatedly said that it views the Beijing games as “polarizing” and said it would not send any representatives to the China games.
“The president believes that the strong sanctions being imposed on North Korea will have a positive impact on U.S. efforts to persuade China to take additional steps to address the North Korean regime’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” read a statement from the National Security Council and the State Department. “The ongoing detention of Otto Warmbier continues to weigh on President Trump and the Secretary of State and we have been seeking an update from the Chinese government.”
Mr. Warmbier, a college student who was imprisoned in North Korea for 17 months before being returned home in a coma in June, died last week after visiting the U.S. The Trump administration placed Mr. Warmbier on a list of sanctions imposed on North Korea, and this week, the administration ordered sanctionable entities in China.
“Secretary Pompeo reiterated his deep concern over the harsh conditions under which Mr. Warmbier was held and learned of his death this past weekend,” read the statement. “Mr. Pompeo has emphasized to the Chinese government that we will take other action in response to North Korea’s flagrant violations of international norms and human rights.”
China, which was also an opponent of the sanctions list, had said it would allow only accredited journalists to cover the Olympics and implied that members of the U.S. delegation might complicate this.
“We have in place the necessary measures to ensure the safety of Olympic guests,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said. “However, many people from overseas will have excessive expectations. I hope it will not affect our relations.”