Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games: Team GB Boycott

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office – in the House of Commons on 2nd March 2021.

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Photo of Jamie Stone Jamie Stone Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Armed Forces), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Defence), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

If he will make an assessment with Cabinet colleagues on the potential merits of Team GB boycotting the 2022 winter Olympic and Paralympic games in Beijing.

Photo of Nigel Adams Nigel Adams Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The hon. Member will no doubt have heard the Prime Minister highlight that we are not normally in favour of sporting boycotts. Along with that, participation of the national team at the winter Olympics is a matter for the British Olympic Association, which is required to operate independently of the Government under International Olympic Committee regulations.

Photo of Jamie Stone Jamie Stone Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Armed Forces), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Defence), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

I am indeed aware of what the Prime Minister has said. Nevertheless, allies such as the United States and Canada have referred to what is going on in Xinjiang province as genocide. First, does the Minister agree that we should get international condemnation of these ghastly goings on in China? Secondly, in view of what the Prime Minister said, does the Minister agree that we should support those athletes who choose individually to boycott the winter Olympic and Paralympic games, as a demonstration of their opposition to this genocide?

Photo of Nigel Adams Nigel Adams Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

We are leading international action, including at the UN, to hold China to account. We have led from the front. We have an increasing cohort of countries supporting our statements on the happenings in Xinjiang. This is a matter for the British Olympic Association and the individual sportsmen. The British Olympic Association is required to operate independently of Government, and rightly so, under the regulations set down by the International Olympic Committee. This is a matter for the Olympic organisations and individual sportsmen.

Photo of Alyn Smith Alyn Smith Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

The malfeasance of the Chinese Government in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong is well documented, and my party supports the offer that has been made to the 5 million Hong Kong citizens of a route to citizenship. However, I would be grateful for an assurance from the Minister that proper preparations and proper funding for the integration of Hongkongers coming to the UK are actually in place, because I am not convinced they are. We cannot let this scheme just be a first-class lifeboat for the rich of Hong Kong; it does need to be properly run through for everybody. Can he commit to a statement to the House in due course explaining how the scheme is being worked through with the Home Office and the proper funding being allocated to make sure this is open to all Hongkongers?

Photo of Nigel Adams Nigel Adams Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

That is a very sensible question from the hon. Gentleman. It is absolutely the case that we need to ensure that those British national overseas passport holders who arrive in the UK are treated and greeted well. We welcome the many applications that we have had thus far. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has met the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to discuss exactly the issue the hon. Gentleman raises. It is important that people are given the right support when they arrive in the United Kingdom, and I am sure that further information on such schemes and what has been organised for these people coming from Hong Kong will be announced very shortly.