State Department spokesman Ned Price raised the possibility that the U.S. could coordinate with other countries to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing over human rights abuses.
The move would have international implications but also Comcast’s investment in the rights to the event. The company controls the U.S. media rights to the games through 2032, in a $7.75 billion deal that was made with the International Olympic Committee in 2014.
Price said that the U.S. “is engaging with partners, with allies, to coordinate, coordinate closely on decisions and approaches to the government in Beijing.” He pointed to the set of by the U.S., Canada, UK and EU sanctions against those responsible for the atrocities in Xinjiang, which led to retaliatory action by China.
“I wouldn’t want to put a time frame on it, but these discussions are underway,” Price said.
Spokespersons for Comcast and NBCUniversal did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
CEO Brian Roberts last month addressed the possibility of this year’s Summer Games, already postponed from last year because of Covid-19, being delayed again or even canceled. He said at a conference that “in the event that it didn’t, we have insurance and contractual protections.”
A boycott of the Games by the U.S. would be the first since 1980, when President Jimmy Carter kept Team USA home from the Summer Games in Moscow. NBC had the rights to the games that year, and its coverage was greatly scaled back. Four years later, the Soviet Union boycotted the Games in Los Angeles, but it didn’t stop the ABC broadcast from being a ratings bonanza.
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