A majority of world leaders attending the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing will be leaders of non-democratic governments, following diplomatic boycotts from much of the Western world.
President Joe Biden refused to implement a full boycott of the games, instead choosing to send athletes while ensuring government officials stay in the United States.
The diplomatic boycotts were announced as a response to China’s ongoing human rights abuses, including the internment of more than one million Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region.
The boycott is widely supported across the United States, with a poll from Pew Research Center showing that 46% of Americans support the boycott, and only 22% disapprove. Most respondents were unaware or didn’t know much about the boycott, however, with some 45% saying that they had heard nothing about it.
Similar diplomatic boycotts were announced by Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, Lithuania, Denmark, Netherlands, New Zealand, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia, Austria, Sweden, and Belgium.
It leaves behind a host of countries ruled by dictators – with the curious addition of Poland, a democratic and economically growing country in the European Union.
Here’s Who Is Going
These are some of the world leaders attending the Olympic Games in Beijing.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin
- Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia
- Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan
- Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić
- Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar
- Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
- Kyrgyzstan President Sadyr Zhaparov
- Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi
- President Abdulla Shahid of the United Nations General Assembly
- Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni
- Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape
- Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand
- Mongolian Prime Minister L. Oyun-Erdene
- Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso Mendoza
- Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Prince Albert II of Monaco
- Argentinian President Alberto Fernández
Poland On China
Both Poland and Finland chose not to implement diplomatic boycotts of the Beijing Olympics, and the Polish government has gone to some length recently to distance itself from the United States’ hostility towards China.
Polish President Andrzej Duda will be the only democratically elected European Union head of state attending the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games on Friday.
“Poland is a sovereign nation and decides its own politics towards China,” Polish foreign affairs advisor Jakub Kumoch recently told Reuters.
“Poland is an ally of the United States but Poland also has a very friendly relationship with China,” he added.
The relationship between the two countries appears to be largely economic, with Poland’s economy growing steadily. Data shows how the Polish economy has grown steadily for the last thirty years, and its capital city of Warsaw is quickly becoming a powerhouse within the European Union.
Polish President Andrzej Duda has sought to maintain a good relationship with China and plans to use his trip to Beijing to meet with President Xi Jinping to make the case against Russian aggression in Ukraine – a meeting that could ultimately put pressure on Russia from China if President Xi sees things the way President Duda does.
“China is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and an important neighbor of Russia. President Xi Jinping will host President Putin in Beijing on Friday — we think it is of utmost importance for the Chinese side to get a different, European perspective on the situation, too,” Duda’s office told Politico.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and report on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.