Behind the Poll:

NHL out, Beijing Olympics on thin ice, as Omicron imperils games in country where pandemic began

hina’s hopes of pulling off a Winter Olympics to showcase itself as a modern superpower are now on thin ice, as a global surge of COVID-19 looms over the games hosted by the country where the pandemic began.

In just the past 48 hours or so, the galloping spread of the Omicron variant has forced the National Hockey League to pull out of the games and the lockdown of roughly 30 million people in the Chinese city of Xi’an.

To be sure, China’s attempt to stage a world-class sporting event on a global stage was already  in some jeopardy, as years of Chinese human rights violations had raised the specter of an international boycott, limited competition and big financial losses.

A week ago, the United States announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing games, with the Biden administration specifically citing China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang,” a region in China that is home to a reported 12 million Uyghur Muslims.  

Australia, Britain, Canada and Lithuania promptly joined the U.S.-led diplomatic boycott of the games starting Feb. 4, triggering China to say President Biden will “pay a price” for his actions.

But days later, on Dec. 15, former Trump administration Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — who has openly speculated that the virus was either accidentally or intentionally leaked from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology — criticized Biden’s diplomatic boycott as a half measure. 
– Just the News staff