Beijing Winter Olympics: UK Government urged to boycott the winter Olympics amid propaganda warning

A ministerial boycott has been urged of the Beijing Winter Olympics amid warnings at Westminster that attendance would fuel the communist regime's propaganda machine.

The call in Parliament for the UK to give next year's tournament the official cold-shoulder came in the face of mounting criticism of human rights abuses by the Chinese Government, including accusations of genocide.

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The Government has said no decisions have yet been made about sending representatives to the event and pointed out the participation of Team GB was a matter for the independent national Olympic committee.

FILE - United States' Ted Ligety celebrates after winning the gold medal in the men's giant slalom at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia, in this Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, file photo. Two-time Olympic champion Ted Ligety says he will retire from World Cup ski racing after the world championships. Ligety’s final race will be the giant slalom on Feb. 19 in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

Speaking in the House of Lords, Tory former minister Lord Robathan said: "Anyone who doubts the propaganda use to which the Olympics can be put by an authoritarian regime should visit the astonishing, magnificent 1936 Olympic Stadium in Berlin, which is a monument to National Socialism, whereas the boycott, the partial boycott, of the Moscow Olympics in 1980 sent a strong signal to the Soviet Union.

"So I urge the minister to take away the message that we will actually be assisting the Chinese Government in their use of propaganda if we do not condemn the Chinese Government by not sending any ministers or official representatives to the Olympics."

The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev Alan Smith, said: "I am sure none of us wants to see a boycott of the Winter Olympics, yet we are seeing unprecedented human rights abuses and we will be judged by future generations on how we respond."

Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Northover said: "Is the minister aware that China has apparently threatened the United Kingdom with sanctions in response to even considering a boycott?

"Therefore, we can see how important the 2022 Winter Olympic Games are to China's global reputation.

"Will the Government be keeping any participation at these games under close review?"

Lord Ahmad, whose ministerial responsibilities include human rights, said: "He will be aware of my commitment to the importance of freedom of religion or belief around the world."

He added: "On the issue of the Olympics and China's current hosting or a change of venue... that is not a matter for the Government."

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