Denmark and the Netherlands will not send official representatives to the Winter Olympics in Beijing, they announced on Friday, referring to the human rights situation, the treatment of minorities in China and the resumption of the pandemic coronavirus.

“The government has decided that we will not participate in the Winter Olympics in China (…) It is no secret that we in Denmark are very concerned about the human rights situation in China” , Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said in a statement to AFP.

Athletes encouraged to participate

This decision came after a European meeting which showed that “unfortunately it is not possible to reach an agreement between the 27 countries. Different choices were made as to the way forward,” explained the head of Danish diplomacy.

VIDEO. Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics: the United States announces a diplomatic boycott

On the other hand, the Danish athletes will participate well in the competitions. “Danish athletes can count on the full support of the government. And we will encourage them, as we always do,” continued Jeppe Kofod. “But we will do it from home, not from the stands in Beijing.”

Around the world, a proliferation of diplomatic boycotts

Sweden announced earlier this week that no official representative would participate in the Olympics ceremonies, this time because of the pandemic. An approach taken up by the Netherlands on Friday, but explaining that the health restrictions caused by the coronavirus would make it “difficult” for sufficiently in-depth discussions between Dutch diplomats and their Chinese counterparts on subjects such as human rights.

An identical decision had been taken for the Tokyo Games last summer, also because of the Covid-19. But according to a government source, it is “not a political boycott” like those recently announced by the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, because of the violence committed by the Chinese authorities against minorities in the country, including that of the Uyghurs.

Dutch athletes will make the trip, like speed skaters Sven Kramer and Ireen Wust, to defend their Olympic titles. But not King Willem-Alexander, who had already decided to make common cause with the fans of his country, prevented from going to the Games because of health constraints.

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