Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics: UK to 'effectively' join US diplomatic boycott, PM Boris Johnson says

The UK government has said it will not send diplomats to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, joining the US and Australia in a stance against China. VCG/VCG via Getty Images

There will "effectively" be a British diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in China because no ministers or officials are due to attend, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told parliament on Wednesday.

The White House announced on Monday that U.S. government officials will boycott the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing over China's human rights "atrocities," though the action allows American athletes to travel to compete.

Pressed by two different lawmakers in parliament if Britain would follow suit, Johnson said: "There will be effectively a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, no ministers are expected to attend and no officials."

"I do not think that sporting boycotts are sensible and that remains the policy of the government," he added.

Australia matched the U.S. response on Wednesday, announcing that it would also boycott the Games, but will still send athletes, causing a backlash from China's foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin.

Wenbin urged Australia not to engage in "political posturing" before adding: "Whether they come or not, nobody cares."

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the decision was made due to his government's struggles to reopen diplomatic channels with China to discuss alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Beijing's moves to slow and block imports of Australian goods.

Australian government officials have been unable to speak to their counterparts in months, with communication conducted instead through diplomats.