German ministers not travelling to China for Winter Olympics
Although Germany is not following the diplomatic boycott announced by some countries around the world, it seems unlikely that a representative of the federal government will travel to China for the opening of the Winter Olympic Games on Friday. Chancellor Olaf Scholz has already ruled out a trip to Beijing, while the Foreign and Interior Ministers announced months ago that they would not travel to the games.
Germany’s presence at Beijing Winter Olympics unclear
Speaking to ZDF, Scholz said he had no plans to go to the Beijing Winter Olympics: “I have no travel plans,” he said. “That’s why you can’t assume that I’ll suddenly show up and say: Hello, here I am.”
For many weeks, the chancellor has left unanswered questions about Germany’s presence at the Olympics Games. Government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit could not say whether an official representative of the federal government would take part in the opening ceremony on Friday - making it seem more and more likely that no German minister is planning on attending.
In response to a request from the dpa, the Federal Foreign Office said that no one from its side would be there - including no representative from the German Embassy in Beijing. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock recently stated that, while her decision not to attend the games was expressly personal, and not political, she does have serious concerns. “I am very worried about the human rights situation in China, which a sports festival like this can’t cover up,” she said.
Baerbock clarified that she and the Minister of the Interior for Sport, Nancy Faeser, had agreed not to travel to Beijing for the games. She said that, in principle, major sporting events like the games should be linked to compliance with central criteria such as freedom of the press, human rights and good conditions for workers. “You can only celebrate big sporting events if other people don’t have to pay for it with their lives,” Baerbock said.
USA, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand to boycott games
The Beijing Winter Olympics will start on Friday, February 4 and will last until February 20. While representatives from countries such as Russia, Poland, Serbia, Egypt, Argentina, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan will be in attendance, the USA several weeks ago announced a diplomatic boycott of the games. It has since been joined by Australia, Canada, the UK and New Zealand, among others.
Chancellor Scholz has since repeatedly emphasised that a diplomatic boycott was something for the European Union to decide upon together. “As far as I know, the [voting] process is still ongoing,” said government spokesperson Hebestreit.