According to a study released Friday, over two-thirds of South Koreans are uninterested in the forthcoming Beijing Winter Olympics. Some nations have decided to diplomatically boycott the Games to send a strong message in protest against the human rights abuses in China.
65% of South Koreans uninterested in Beijing Winter Olympics
From Tuesday to Thursday, Gallup Korea interviewed 1,002 South Korean people about the Chinese capital’s Winter Games, which will take place from February 4 to 20. In addition, 65 percent stated they were uninterested, compared to 32 percent who expressed interest in the competition. The remaining 3% did not respond.
In the same poll, taken before to the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, 71% stated they were interested in the event.
Gallup Korea found that the degree of disinterest in Beijing is nearly the same to that of the Tokyo Summer Olympics, which were hosted last year following a one-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At a 95 percent confidence level, the latest survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
The respondents were asked to name two sports that they were most excited to see during the Beijing Winter Games. Short track speed skating, in which South Korea had won 24 gold medals to top all countries so far, had the highest support (30%), followed by figure skating (19%), speed skating (16%), and curling (7%).
However, 47 percent of those questioned stated they were either uninterested in or knew nothing about the 15 Winter Olympic sports.
Curling has been the only sport that saw a rise in interest four years ago.
South Korea’s women’s team earned a surprising silver medal in PyeongChang and has qualified for the Olympics in Beijing as well.
Nations boycotting the Beijing Winter Olympics
As the globe prepares for the most political Olympic Games in a decade, the West has battled to establish a consensus on the host country.
The Games begin on February 4 in Beijing, with China under criticism for allegations of human rights violations, including suppression of the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang and the uncertain condition of tennis star Peng Shuai, who accused a former top Communist Party member of sexual assault.
Global leaders recognize that the Olympics are a once-in-a-lifetime chance for many athletes, and they are hesitant to deprive them of it through a full-fledged boycott. However, some nations have opted to boycott the Games diplomatically in order to make a message.
Here’s a complete list of those who are avoiding Beijing’s main event.
In early December, the Baltic country was among the first to declare a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics. “Foreign Minister [Gabrielius] Landsbergis will not attend the Beijing Winter Olympics,” the foreign ministry announced. Lithuania’s gestures toward self-ruling Taiwan, which China regards to be part of its territory, have strained relations between Vilnius and Beijing in recent months.
The United States
On December 6, the Biden administration declared that no formal US delegation would be sent. The “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang,” according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, are reasons for the boycott.
“Australian government officials will … not be going to China for those games. Australian athletes will, though,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared on December 8, when his country chose to join the boycott.
The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said on December 8 that no ministers will attend due to suspected human rights violations in China, declaring that “there will be effectively a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing.”
Canada also declared its diplomatic boycott on December 8: “We will not be sending any diplomatic representation to the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games this winter,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated, adding that Canada’s decision should not “come as a surprise” to China.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo stated, “The Federal Government does not intend to send any representation to the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.” His government took the position on December 14, independent of any ultimate EU stance.
Denmark will also not send a formal diplomatic team to Beijing. “It is no secret that we from the Danish side are very concerned about the human rights situation in China,” Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod remarked on January 14.
A foreign ministry spokeswoman confirmed on Monday that Estonian President Alar Karis and his government officials will not travel to Beijing. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not know of any Estonian government members planning to participate in the Beijing Olympics,” the spokesperson said.
Nations that cannot attend the Beijing Winter Olympics due to the pandemic
Aside from countries whose government officials have formally declared to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics due to the human rights situation in the communist country, other nations have announced that they will not send any government officials to represent their government due to COVID-19. Among these countries are New Zealand, Austria, Slovenia, Sweden, and the Netherlands.