WASHINGTON — Utah Senator Mitt Romney is calling for a non-traditional boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing next February. He said he wants all Americans, besides families of athletes, to stay home to keep the country from benefiting from the games.
“I think there’s a growing recognition in our country, that we have to make it very clear that we do not stand in any way with the abuses we’re seeing in China,” he told Utah’s Morning News.
He pointed to China’s growing mistreatment of freedom fighters in Hong Kong, as well as their human rights violations towards the Uyghurs as pressing problems that shouldn’t be overlooked by a global community.
Romney said this boycott of the Olympics would not be similar to the one in 1980, but instead, he’s asking for an economic and diplomatic boycott.
“I think young people here [in 1980] lost the chance to watch our athletes on TV, to see the American National Anthem, played over the air in Russia. I mean, these are things that I think we needed to think about before we put that kind of a boycott in place. And I hope we don’t repeat it.
“That’s one of the reasons I’m out there saying to folks, hey, economic and diplomatic boycott, but don’t tell our athletes they can’t compete,” he said.
You can hear Senator Romney’s full conversation with Tim and Amanda below.
An uncorrected transcript of the conversation is below:
Tim Hughes: Time now for the KSL In-Depth. Senator Mitt Romney is calling for a non-traditional boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing next February.
Amanda Dickson: Joining us live on the KSL Newsline is Senator Mitt Romney. Good morning, Senator.
Senator Mitt Romney: Good morning, Amanda.
Amanda Dickson: How would this non-traditional boycott work?
Senator Mitt Romney: Well, what I would suggest is that we tell large corporations that typically put packages together for their customers, their suppliers, some of their employees and send them off to the Olympics, they buy a lot of tickets, hotel rooms, meals, and so forth. In the country that hosting the games. We say to these companies, don’t do it. Boycott these Olympics. Watch the Olympics on TV like the rest of us, and perhaps take your customers on a trip to, I don’t know, some beautiful place in the United States. But don’t go to Beijing. Likewise, for those that are planning on the broadcast and the games, let’s not show the jingoistic propaganda that China is going to put on the air. Let’s instead broadcast some of the things that Chad is doing that are outrageous.
Tim Hughes: That’s a rather provocative idea that NBC jump on board with this. You’ve been on the inside of this, senator, with both the IOC and with the network, what do you think the chances of that happening are really?
Senator Mitt Romney: Well, actually, I think NBC is quite receptive to the need to tell a complete story about China. And I think it’s something that we don’t really watch very closely. But what’s happening in Hong Kong is an outrage. There was an agreement that China entered into to allow Hong Kong to have self-rule. They have torn up that agreement, and they’re putting protesters and members of the media in jail. And then they’re the Uyghurs, say, an ethnic group of about a million people. They’re being put in concentration camps, in work camps, and they’re being subject to genocide. It’s absolutely outrageous and this is a story that has to be told alongside, if you will, the Olympics.
Amanda Dickson: Is there any support for this kind of boycott around the world?
Senator Mitt Romney: I think there’s a growing recognition in our country, that we have to make it very clear that we do not stand in any way with the abuses we’re seeing in China. And of course, there was some talk about saying, hey, let’s not go to the Olympics, let’s boycott the Olympics altogether. And I pointed out that would be a mistake that would basically put our displeasure with the Chinese on the shoulders of well, very, very few American athletes and, and young people who have trained their entire lives to be ready for the Olympic Games. Telling them they can’t go to that competition, in my opinion, would not be the right way to go? So let’s instead boycott with our pocketbooks instead of say, saying to our kids, you can’t go compete.
Tim Hughes: I have always felt badly of the athletes that train so hard for the 1980 Olympics in Moscow and then had their dreams dashed there. And in the end, it didn’t make much of a difference or change anything in Russia.
Senator Mitt Romney: No, you’re absolutely right. You know, Jimmy Carter was upset with the Russians. And I understand why he was. He felt the boycott would descend a strong message, and, you know, didn’t send a huge message, except to the athletes here who had trained to go there and to compete, were told that they couldn’t do so they lost the opportunity to ever then be an Olympian, to participate in that kind of a competition. I think young people here lost the chance to watch our athletes on TV, to see the American national athlete, excuse me, the anthem, played over the air in Russia. I mean, these are things that I think we needed to think about before we put that kind of a boycott in place. And I hope we don’t repeat it. That’s one of the reasons I’m out there saying to folks, hey, economic and diplomatic boycott, but don’t tell our athletes they can’t compete.
Amanda Dickson: While we have you senator, may I ask you because you are privy to foreign affairs information. When you heard that Kevin McCarthy claimed that migrants from Yemen and Iran and Turkey and people on the terrorist watch list have been caught crossing the Mexico border? Have you been privy to that kind of information?
Senator Mitt Romney: No, I have not. I’m not on the Intelligence Committee. But I’ve heard nothing of that from members who are. What I do know is that we have thousands upon thousands of young, young people, unaccompanied minors they’re called, but these are kids that are being taken by these human traffickers and brought across the border and brought into the United States. And they’re flooding our immigration system. And it’s really an outrage that, that our president has not put in place policies that prevent this kind of traffic trafficking of young people.
Tim Hughes: Senator Romney, we appreciate your time as always. Thanks for joining us this morning.
Senator Mitt Romney: Thanks, Tim. What about the best of you guys,
Amanda Dickson: Best to you as well. That’s the In-Depth at 15 and 45.