Boris Johnson has been urged to announce a ministerial and royal boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in protest at China’s human rights record.
The Prime Minister said no decision had yet been taken on the 2022 games, and said he wanted to protect sporting events and members of the royal family from “political ramifications”.
But he faced pressure to follow the example set over the 2018 World Cup in Russia, when UK ministers and senior royals stayed away following the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury.
Mr Johnson was challenged on the issue by Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat.
The Prime Minister said Beijing had breached the Sino-British declaration over the imposition of the national security law on Hong Kong and condemned the “objectionable” treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, although stopped short of describing it as a genocide.
Mr Tugendhat asked the Prime Minister: “In the light of the abuses that you have listed, both to British nationals and to minority communities within China, will you allow ministers to attend the Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022 and will you ask members of the royal family to boycott the event?”
Mr Johnson said: “We will review that matter as and when we need to make a decision.
“But generally speaking, I think it’s important to – if you can – protect international sporting events and, indeed, members of the royal family from political ramifications.”
The Prime Minister added: “It’s not something we have taken a decision on yet.”
Mr Tugendhat pointed out that Mr Johnson – when he was foreign secretary – had been clear around 18 months before the Russian World Cup that he would not encourage ministers or royals to go to Moscow.
The Tory MP told Mr Johnson: “You certainly wouldn’t suggest, I’m sure, that British nationals overseas or Uighur Muslims have fewer rights or are less appropriate for boycott than Russian citizens in the United Kingdom?”
Mr Johnson said: “You are asking us to take a decision some way out and we haven’t yet made that decision.”
Source: Press Association