With less than three months until the start of the 2022 Olympics, Beijing is set to become the first city ever to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics. However, as athletes continue to prepare for their spotlight moment, the public outcry over China’s severe human rights abuses continues to grow, bringing into question whether every country will actually attend and participate in these Games.
Beijing Olympics Boycott Odds
Odds as of December 1 at Bovada
Despite a growing global outcry of public support to boycott Beijing, it is still expected that the majority of countries, if not all of them, will send their athletes to participate. But as the Games inch closer to starting, there is a real possibility that one or more countries will decide that they need to take a stand against the Chinese government and a boycott is a real possibility.
Beijing Olympics 2022 Boycott: Could It Happen?
There is precedent to suggest that a boycott by one or more countries could definitely happen in 2022. Six times, countries have decided to take a political stand and boycott the Olympics for a variety of reasons.
In 1956, the Soviet Union invaded Hungary less than a month before the Games were scheduled to begin. Switzerland, the Netherlands and Spain all pulled out of the Olympics to protest the Soviet Union’s invasion.
What is interesting is that Hungary still participated that year and things got heated in the pool when Hungary played the Soviet Union in a water polo match. The Hungarians were awarded the victory in that match, which was cut short because of a mid-game brawl between the two sides.
The most impactful boycott in Olympic history occurred in 1980, when Russia was the host country. That year, 65 different countries did not send their athletes to compete after Russia invaded Afghanistan in December 1979, sending over 25,000 troops to Kabul. The U.S. led the boycott that year, refusing to allow their athletes to attend or compete.
Many other countries soon followed their lead, meaning only 80 countries competed in Moscow. Unfortunately, the boycott had little impact on the Soviet-Afghan war, which lasted until 1989.
Just four years later, it was the United States’ turn to host the Olympics in Los Angeles, California. It’s no surprise that Russia decided a boycott of those Games was necessary and 14 countries in total decided to not attend.
Despite Russia’s absence from the Los Angeles Games, an Olympic-record 140 countries did participate that year. However, without the Russian athletes in attendance, the U.S. dominated the event by winning 83 gold medals.
Will The U.S. Boycott The Beijing Games?
To suggest that sometimes the U.S. and China have difficulty getting along would be a major political understatement. The United States and several other countries have accused the Chinese government of genocide against the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.
China and the U.S. have also had strong disagreements over the Americans’ support for Taiwan and their pledge to help defend them if China were to attack.
China has warned the U.S. that they are “playing with fire” regarding their openly public support of Taiwan.
Over the past several years, the two countries have also been involved in trade wars and have spent a lot of time pointing fingers at each other over a variety of issues, including who started the coronavirus pandemic.
As we approach the Beijing Games, there are already strong rumblings that U.S. President Joe Biden will at least impose a diplomatic boycott as a show of protest, meaning no high-ranking U.S. government officials would attend the competitions.
Will Canada Boycott The Beijing Olympics?
On December 1, 2018, the Canadian RCMP arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. Meng was arrested for extradition to the U.S. to face fraud charges.
The Chinese government responded by arresting two Canadians only a couple of days after Meng was detained in Canada. The two Canadians were held as political prisoners in China for over 1,000 days before finally being released in September 2021.
The Chinese government is suggesting the two events are not related to each other, but the rest of the world disagrees.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been vocal with his concerns of the possible human rights violations occurring in China and publicly asked the Chinese government to allow independent observers access to parts of China where these violations are believed to be happening.
All this is to say that the current relationship between Canada and China is at best a little strained. Recently it was announced that Trudeau, like Biden, is strongly considering a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games.
If Canada publicly announces a diplomatic boycott, China, as they have done in the past, may respond. Another situation like the arrest of two Canadian citizens may force Canada into greater measures, including a possible athlete boycott.
Why Is Norway The Betting Chalk To Boycott?
To be honest, I’m not sure. Like many other countries, Norway has struggled at times to get along with China. Norway was also very public about their consideration to withdraw from the 2022 FIFA World Cup, being hosted in Qatar.
However, there is nothing I could find to suggest that Norway is any more likely to boycott Beijing than any of the other countries also being discussed.
Bovada has also provided odds for several other countries who may decide to boycott the Beijing Games.
Beijing Olympics Boycott Odds
Odds as of December 1 at Bovada
With less than three months remaining until the 2022 Games begin, it doesn’t appear that a boycott of athletes is being planned by any specific country. However, where things could get interesting is when some countries publicly admit they will be imposing a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics.
There is a strong belief that when diplomatic boycotts begin to be announced, China will not react favorably to this news. Depending on how far the Chinese government is willing to go to retaliate against any country that takes a stand, there could end up being countries who decide pulling their athletes is the right move to make.
I don’t believe that any of the U.S., Canada or the U.K. wants to pull their athletes. However, I do believe at least two of those countries could impose a diplomatic boycott. If and when that happens, it will be very interesting to see how the Chinese government responds and if countries are then forced to pull their competitors.