– We do not consider it relevant with a boycott as a tool, says Minister of Culture Anette Trettebergstuen.
The question of how the world community should relate to the Winter Olympics in China has been on the agenda in recent days.
Last week, US President Joe Biden provoked outrage in China.
Biden said the United States was “considering” a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Winter Games in China. This means that the United States will not send government officials, diplomats or politicians to the Winter Olympics, even if American athletes participate.
On Wednesday, Liberal Party leader Guri Melby asked the government if this was also something the government would consider.
She received a clear answer from Minister of Culture and Gender Equality Anette Trettebergstuen (Labor Party).
This is something Norway will not even consider.
The Minister of Culture: – Norway has no tradition for this
– This government does not consider the issue of a diplomatic boycott in any other way than the government that resigned earlier this autumn and of which well-known representative Melby was a part, Trettebergstuen said in the Storting’s question time on Wednesday.
Abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang Province have long led to harsh criticism of China. But as long as the Liberal Party was in government, there was no proposal for a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Games.
– Norwegian authorities are very concerned about the human rights situation in China. Especially in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. It has been regularly discussed with the Chinese authorities and the UN in recent years. We will continue with that, said Trettebergstuen.
However, considering a form of boycott is irrelevant.
– Norway has no tradition of diplomatic boycott of sports events, said Trettebergstuen.
The government has not yet decided how Norway will be represented in Beijing.
– But it will be natural for a large winter sports nation like Norway to have a presence to support our top athletes, said Trettebergstuen.
– More faith in dialogue than boycott
Left-wing leader Guri Melby believes the story of tennis star Peng Shuai (35) is an argument for a diplomatic boycott.
Peng Shuai accused the former Chinese Deputy Prime Minister of social media abuse. Then she disappeared without a trace. Chinese censorship authorities went so far as to remove the word “tennis” on Chinese Internet.
Although Peng Shuai appeared last weekend at a video conference with IOC chief Tomas Bach, many fear that she has been kidnapped and arrested.
– It is a development that gives reason to make a new assessment of the case, said Liberal Party leader Guri Melby.
The Minister of Culture expressed that he shared the concern of Peng Shuai.
– The question of diplomatic boycott is thus not a tool that this government believes in, said Trettebergstuen.
She added that the government has “more faith in dialogue than a boycott as a tool for change”.
– We do not consider it relevant with a boycott as a tool.
Guri Melby: – Disappointing and weak
– It is disappointing and weak of Trettebergstuen, says Liberal Party leader Guri Melby.
– I agree that a diplomatic boycott should go a long way. But we have a responsibility to use the tools we can. Excluding it as an alternative almost regardless, means that we do not have any cards on hand vis-à-vis China, says Melby.
She says that athletes must be allowed to participate freely as they wish.
– But I think it is a completely different discussion about whether the Norwegian authorities should participate in the event with representatives and government members. This is a soft boycott.
– What do you mean?
– I want a diplomatic boycott, Melby says.
– If government members and Norwegian diplomats leave, we will contribute to sports laundering of China.