UN chief to attend Beijing Olympics amid diplomatic boycotts

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (above) has accepted an invitation to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. PHOTO: REUTERS

UNITED NATIONS, UNITED STATES (AFP) - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will attend the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, his spokesman said on Thursday (Dec 9), after the United States announced a diplomatic boycott and several other Western nations followed suit.

"The secretary-general received an invitation from the International Olympic Committee to attend the opening of the Beijing Winter Games and he has accepted it," spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.

The US said its athletes would still compete, but that it would not send a diplomatic delegation in a protest against rights abuses by China.

Australia, Britain and Canada also announced diplomatic boycotts.

France has no plans to join the boycott, President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday, calling such a move "insignificant."

China warned nations that they would "pay the price" for boycotts.

Advocacy groups have backed the US-led effort, with Human Rights Watch's China director Sophie Richardson calling it a "crucial step towards challenging the Chinese government's crimes against humanity targeting Uighurs and other Turkic communities."

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