Biden’s diplomatic boycott of Olympics in China is about as empty as his presidency

Administration’s announcement will do absolutely nothing

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President Biden’s administrative boycott of the Olympics will do nothing.
President Biden’s administrative boycott of the Olympics will do nothing.
Image: Getty Images

It’s not that anyone should have expected the Joe Biden administration to pull the big card and keep U.S. athletes away from Beijing in February. It would have led other nations to do the same, and might have actually been the rare instance of someone standing up to China for all the atrocities it commits. But given how much everyone needs China’s money, all we ever see is administrations worldwide playing pattycake with them. That’s all an administrative boycott is.

Who gives a flying fuck if some underling we’ve never heard of makes an appearance at the Games, and claps awkwardly while someone tries to tell them the rules of curling? Or even Vice President Harris? It’s not why anyone watches. Is China going to feel that pinch? Somehow, I doubt it.

It’s pretty much like everything else this administration has done. It’s nice that they’ve at least recognized a problem, which is more than we’ve gotten in the past. But then it’s a half-measure at best, whose basic purpose is to show that they recognized the problem and really wanted to do something about it but this toothless gesture was the best they could do. And then act bewildered why we didn’t eat it up and call us ungrateful.


Would a full boycott get China to change anything? Almost certainly not. I don’t know what would, and would need weeks of lessons in international diplomacy. It would cost NBC millions in ad revenue, and you can be sure their execs were barking at the administration about that very fact. But it would at least show some gumption. An actual stomach for real change.

Yeah, I know, you can’t punish the athletes. Most of them have their own seasons in their own competitions that keep them afloat, though the chance at the big bucks comes from making a name for themselves at the Games. Mikaela Shiffrin doesn’t get car ads because of her work during the ski season. She gets them from winning medals at the Games. There are many like her. But should a couple hundred athletes’ happiness matter over a country that is committing genocide against the Uyghurs? Or disappearing of one of their own in Peng Shuai? Or their anti-democracy moves in Taiwan and Hong Kong? Probably not.


NBC will get their money from advertisers, as the IOC cashes the checks from NBC it already got, all the while trying to parrot China’s state media telling us everything is fine with Peng Shuai. Nothing to see here.

We’ve all known what the Games are for a decade or more. The U.S. really shouldn’t ever participate. If it really wanted to, it could hold its own event and keep all the money for itself (this will happen one day I’m sure). Wave enough cash at athletes, you’ll get the best. But that’s another discussion for another time.


It’s yet another quarter- to half-measure from the administration, and they’ll get huffy if we don’t act like it’s the best thing to ever happen to us. And not much will change. I guess I should be used to it after a year of it.