People walk past a panda mascot called Bing Dwen Dwen near Bird Stadium ?? s Nest, the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2022 Winter Olympics, in Beijing on February 4, 2021, a year before the Games open on February 4, 2022. (Photo by Noel Celis / AFP )

WASHINGTON – The United States is expected to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in China, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said on Sunday, becoming the latest Republican to join growing fury over the Games and the record of the Beijing rights.

“We must boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in China,” tweeted Haley, a former close ally of former President Donald Trump and herself a presidential candidate.

“It would be a terrible loss for our athletes, but it must be weighed against the ongoing genocide in China and the prospect that China’s empowerment will lead to even greater horrors on the road.”

The Games are scheduled to begin on February 4 next year, just six months after the delayed Tokyo Summer Olympics, but preparations for both have been overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic.

China faces a comprehensive review on a range of issues, including the mass internment of Uyghur Muslims in the western Xinjiang region, which the United States has called genocide.

It is also under pressure for its crackdown on rights in the former British colony of Hong Kong, and for its stance towards Taiwan, the democratic, self-governing island that Beijing considers part of its territory.

Earlier this week, Republican Congressman John Katko wrote to President Joe Biden urging a boycott.

“Participation in the Olympic Games held in a country which openly commits genocide not only undermines these shared values, but casts a shadow on the promise of all those who seek free and just societies,” Katko wrote in the letter, published on his Maison’s website.

And earlier this month, a group of U.S. senators introduced a resolution to withdraw the Games from China, urging the International Olympic Committee to allow new nominations so that the Games can be “hosted by a country that recognizes and respects human rights”.

Earlier this month, a coalition of 180 rights organizations also called for a boycott.

The White House has not reported any change in approach.

In a statement to AFP earlier this month, the International Olympic Committee said concerns raised by campaign groups, including over rights, “have been and are being raised with government and local authorities.”

China’s Foreign Ministry previously dismissed the concerns, calling them “politically motivated” and “very irresponsible.”

Beijing is under increasing pressure, especially over the plight of its Uyghur minority.

Rights groups estimate that at least one million Uyghurs and other Turkish-speaking Muslim minorities are being held in camps in Xinjiang.

After initially denying the existence of the camps, the Chinese government bluntly recognized them, claiming they were vocational training centers aimed at reducing the appeal of Islamic extremism.

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