American athletes Brittany Bowe and John Shuster were the flag bearers for the American contingent of athletes competing in the Beijing Winter Olympics. The team marched in the opening ceremony after the Biden administration announced in December that it would not send an official U.S. delegation to the Games as a statement against “genocide and crimes against humanity underway in Xinjiang” of China.
American athletes are still allowed to compete in the Olympics, but the administration will not send government officials to the games. The same policy applies to the Paralympic Games, which also take place in Beijing.
The White House is seeking to send a “clear message” that human rights abuses in China mean there can’t be “business as usual”, Psaki told reporters during a briefing at the White House.
The move marks an escalation of U.S. pressure on China over allegations of forced labor and human rights abuses in the western Xinjiang region, particularly against the Uyghur population and other ethnic groups and minority religious.
Athletes who will make the U.S. team have the administration’s “full support,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, but added that the administration would “not contribute to the fanfare.” games”.
USA team leader Rick Adams confirmed that a “record number” of 177 American athletes would walk in the opening ceremony.