Foreign media could also be apprehensive of attending the Games, both due to the intense Covid restrictions and concerns surrounding press-freedom. As US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a press briefing about Beijing 2022: “We urge PRC officials not to limit freedom of movement and access for journalists and to ensure that they remain safe and able to report freely.” The Washington Post also recently reported that some journalists will be using ‘burner’ phones and computers while covering the games out of fear of being monitored by the government. Imago’s very own Sammy Minkoff who photographed 19 Olympic Games but has decided to stay home this time around, said in an interview that, “I would support a boycott of the Games in Beijing,” adding that the strict Covid measures helped make the decision not to attend.
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe has expressed that a diplomatic boycott does not accomplish much for improving policies within countries. Looking back at the 1980 Moscow boycotts for example, Soviet troops were not withdrawn from Afghanistan until 1989. In 2014, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and Joseph Biden skipped the Sochi Winter Olympics, with France and Germany not sending top-ranking officials as a statement against Russia’s oppression of gay rights. In 2018, countries like The UK, Iceland and Australia exercised diplomatic boycotts during the World Cup hosted by Russia after the Salisbury Novichok poisoning. Since then, not only has Russia all but eased up on gay rights, the poisoning and imprisonment of opposition leader Alexy Navalny this past year suggests that the boycotts may have done little or nothing in a bid to curb Vladimir Putin’s agendas. It must also be mentioned that the 1976 Montreal boycotts along with others carried out in the 70’s and 80’s however, arguably did induce change in the fight against South Africa’s Apartheid.