Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman on Olympics guest list as US and other Western diplomats boycott

When Chinese President Xi Jinping takes part in the opening of the Winter Games in Beijing on Friday, dozens of world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, are also expected to attend.

The guest list also includes Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi, Polish President Andrzej Duda, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Singaporean President Halimah Yacob and United Nations Secretary General António Guterres. Also present: Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates and Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar.

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Missing, of course, are US officials, as well as other diplomats from Canada, the UK, Australia and other countries. They boycott human rights abuses in China, citing repression of the Uyghur population and genocide against ethnic minorities. The boycott is diplomatic, meaning American athletes will continue to compete, but it changed the tenor of the Games, as well as Covid restrictions. There is also a geopolitical crisis developing, due to the buildup of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border. Putin is to meet Xi before the ceremony.

On Thursday, just as the Olympic events begin, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other activists spoke at a hearing titled “The Beijing Olympics and the Faces of Repression.”

Pelosi said the International Olympic Committee, “aided by corporate sponsors, is once again turning a blind eye to the 2022 Winter Olympics just to bolster their results…If we don’t speak out against human rights abuses rights in China because of commercial interests, we lose all moral authority to speak out against human rights abuses anywhere.

Other countries joining the diplomatic boycott include Germany, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands. France has said it will not join the boycott, but will send two representatives, according to ABC News.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters this week that President Joe Biden would continue to watch the games. “We look forward to being there and cheering on our American athletes who will be competing,” she said.

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