Religious freedom commission welcomes U.S. diplomatic boycott of Olympics

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Biden administration's diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing sends "a strong and unequivocal message" to the Chinese government that its persecution of religious minorities will not be tolerated, said the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

The decision demonstrates the United States' "unwavering commitment to religious freedom," Nury Turkel, the commission's vice chair, said in a Dec. 6 statement.

"The Chinese government's systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom and other human rights of Uighur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, Christians, Falun Gong practitioners and many others betray the Olympic spirit," Turkel said. "In fact, a genocidal regime should not have been granted the privilege to host the Olympics in the first place."

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., who has held several congressional hearings on China's religious and human rights abuses over the years, said that "rather than applauding" the administration's diplomatic boycott, "we should recognize it for what it is: an exceedingly weak gesture in response to a genocidal regime, which is increasingly acting as if it has no place within the community of civilized nations."