THE HAGUE, Jan 15 (NNN-AGENCIES) — The Netherlands will not send an official diplomatic delegation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics because of COVID-19 restrictions, a foreign ministry spokesperson said.
“Because of the COVID-19 measures in place in China there would only be limited opportunities for (…) bilateral contacts with the host country where the Netherlands’ great concern about the human rights situation could be discussed in a meaningful way,” Frits Kemperman said.
The Dutch decision comes amid a US-led diplomatic boycott to protest against China’s human rights record, joined by Australia, Britain, Canada and Japan. China denies rights abuses and has condemned the boycott as betraying Olympic principles.
Dutch athletes will still attend, with speed skaters Sven Kramer and Ireen Wust heading to Beijing to defend their Olympic titles.
Dutch King Willem-Alexander had already decided not to attend because the Covid measures would prevent Dutch fans coming to the Olympics, Kemperman said.
The Netherlands similarly declined to send officials to the Tokyo 2021 summer games because of Covid restrictions, he added.
A Dutch government source said it was “not a political boycott” and that there had been discussions with other EU countries that had also decided not to send an official delegation.
Denmark announced a similar move earlier Friday.
Advocacy groups have backed the US-led effort, with Human Rights Watch’s China director Sophie Richardson calling it a “crucial step toward challenging the Chinese government’s crimes against humanity targeting Uyghurs and other Turkic communities.” –– NNN-AGENCIES