The US Olympic Committee has made clear it does not support a full boycott of the Beijing games.
“While we would never want to minimise what is happening from a human rights perspective in China, we do not support an athlete boycott,” US Olympic Committee President Susanne Lyons said last month.
“We believe such boycotts have not been effective in the past, particularly in 1980.
“Those boycotts only hurt athletes who have trained their entire lives for this opportunity to represent their country.”
A coalition of 180 human rights groups also called for an athlete boycott of the games, a position backed by several high-profile members of the US Congress.
Republican Senator Mitt Romney has proposed allowing American athletes to participate in Beijing, while staging an “economic and diplomatic” boycott of the games.
“American spectators – other than families of our athletes and coaches – should stay at home, preventing us from contributing to the enormous revenues the Chinese Communist Party will raise from hotels, meals and tickets,” Romney wrote in The New York Times.
“American corporations that routinely send large groups of their customers and associates to the Games should send them to US venues instead.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in March that any boycott effort was “doomed to failure”.
“China firmly rejects the politicisation of sports and opposes using human rights issues to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs,” Zhao said.
The Australian Olympic Committee has previously strongly rejected the idea of a Beijing boycott, saying that “neutrality on global political issues” was a critical feature of the Olympic movement.
What in the World
Matthew Knott is North America correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.