Sponsors Silent On Beijing Olympics

On the heels of a muted Tokyo summer Olympics and with COVID still raging, the United States has upped the ante by announcing a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing. But corporate America is remaining largely quiet on the matter so far. 

The White House stated Monday the U.S. would not send any diplomatic or official representatives to the Games in response to the Chinese government’s ongoing human rights abuses against Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang, though U.S. athletes were free to travel there to compete.

China opposes the decision and has announced that it would take unspecified “resolute countermeasures.” 

Several other countries have indicated they will find ways to protest China’s human rights abuses, though most remain noncommittal over joining America in a diplomatic boycott. 

European countries in particular will have tough choices to make. Many have been highly critical of China’s actions in Xinjiang in the past but have deep trade relations with the country. 

Companies sponsoring the event have so far refrained from publicly commenting on the U.S. government’s decision. The boycott further complicates matters for Olympic sponsors, many of whom have already dealt with backlash for taking a stance on China’s human rights abuses. 

Earlier this year, Nike faced consumer boycotts after expressing concerns over reports of Uyghurs being subjected to forced labor in the Xinjiang region, leading to a 59% drop in sales in China. 

Ten of the 12 largest Olympic sponsors combine for $110 billion in annual revenue in the country, according to Bloomberg.