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The history — and future — of Olympic boycotts

A protester holds up a "Boycott Beijing 2022" sign after marching across the Golden Gate Bridge during a demonstration against the 2022 Beijing winter Olympic Games, in San Francisco, California on Feb. 3, 2022. (Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)
A protester holds up a "Boycott Beijing 2022" sign after marching across the Golden Gate Bridge during a demonstration against the 2022 Beijing winter Olympic Games, in San Francisco, California on Feb. 3, 2022. (Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

The Winter Olympics are underway in China with Americans already capturing medals in skiing, snowboarding and team figure skating events. But notably absent from Beijing are U.S. diplomatic representatives.

The U.S. is engaging in a diplomatic boycott, along with a handful of other countries, in order to call attention to China’s alleged human rights abuses. This isn’t the first time a form of boycott has been used at the Olympic games to make a political point; in fact, it draws upon a long tradition.

Host Scott Tong discusses this history of Olympic boycotts with Jules Boykoff, a former Olympic soccer player whose books include “Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.