canada olympic boycott

Canada announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics and here's what that means

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday that Canada will be partaking in a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, meaning it will not send any official representatives to the games.

The news follows similar pledges made by the U.S., the U.K. and Australia this week due to China's record of human rights abuses against the Muslim Uyghur minority in the Xinjiang province.

"We are announcing today that we will not be sending any diplomatic representation to the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic games this winter," Trudeau said Wednesday. 

"We have been very clear over the past many years of our deep concerns around human rights violations, and this is a continuation of us expressing our deep concerns for human rights violations."

But while the mostly symbolic move is intended to send a clear message about where Canada stands regarding human rights concerns in China, it doesn't mean Canadian athletes won't compete in the Winter Olympics. 

The announcement means that Canada will refrain from sending diplomatic missions or representatives to the ceremonies and events, but Canadian athletes who've trained long and hard for this opportunity will still be able to participate as usual. 

"We know that our athletes need to have one thing in mind, that is representing their country to the best of their ability and winning that gold medal for Canada," Trudeau said.

"They will be focused on that. We will do everything necessary to ensure their safety and ensure that they are able to focus single-mindedly on bringing home the gold for Canada."

Trudeau added that concerns around arbitrary detention, the persecution of the Uyghurs and internal dissent are shared by many dozens of countries, including Canada. 

The move comes after many called on the federal government to join its allies in the diplomatic boycott.

Canada took even harsher steps decades earlier, participating in a U.S.-led total boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow protesting the then-Soviet military presence in Afghanistan.

Lead photo by

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

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