No UK ministers or officials to attend Winter Olympics in Beijing, says PM

The US, Australia, and Lithuania have already announced diplomatic boycotts. Credit: AP

No ministers or officials will attend the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, the prime minister has said - effectively confirming a diplomatic boycott of the Games.

But there will be no sporting boycott, and British athletes will still compete in China next year.

Boris Johnson made the comments at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday afternoon, in response to Conservative MP Iain Duncan-Smith.

The Chingford and Woodford Green MP - who is a member of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) - urged the prime minister to boycott the Games.

He called China a "dictatorial, brutal" regime that is persecuting "everyone from Christians through to Tibetans" and "terrorising" its mostly Muslim ethnic Uyghur community.

In response, Boris Johnson said there will "effectively" be a "diplomatic boycott" of Beijing 2022.

"No ministers are expected to attend and no officials", he told the Commons.

When asked about alleged human rights abuses in China, the prime minister said he has "no hesitation" in raising these issues with China and had spoken to the country's president Xi Jinping about concerns the last time the pair met.

Boris Johnson confirmed the government has no plans to stop British athletes from competing.

"I do not think that sporting boycotts are sensible and that remains the policy of the government," he said.

Mr Johnson's comments leave open the prospect that members of the royal family could still attend - the Princess Royal is president of the British Olympic Association and a member of the International Olympic Committee.

On Wednesday morning, Australia also announced a diplomatic boycott of the games. The country follows the US and Lithuania, who have already said they will not be sending diplomatic delegations to the Games.

Concerns have been raised by these countries and the UK about human rights abuses in China. Xi Jinping's government is accused of persecuting Uyghur Muslims in its northwest Xinjiang province. The US has called China's treatment of Uyghur people "genocide".

Several - mainly Western - nations have also accused China of human rights abuses in Tibet and Hong Kong.