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Finland not joining diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics

Several countries have said their politicians will not attend the Olympics because of China's actions in Xinjiang.

Finland's Sports Minister Antti Kurvinen (Cen) plans to attend the Beijing Winter Olympics.. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

Finland's Minister of Culture and Sport, Antti Kurvinen (Cen), will attend the Beijing Winter Olympics. Yle's information is that he will be on hand to watch the closing ceremony.

"This is the most important winter sports event that only happens once every four years," Kurvinen said by phone.

"It is the main event in winter sports for athletes, their backroom teams, and people who love sport, and it is a place where traditionally the minister responsible for Finnish sport has been present."

Kurvinen's attendance means Finland will not be joining the diplomatic boycott of the games, in which several western countries have decided not to send politicians to watch in protest at China's human rights violations.

Kurvinen said that there had been no discussion within the government about joining a diplomatic boycott.

President Sauli Niinistö will not attend the games, reported Turun Sanomat. A source from his office cited the weakening Covid situation in Finland and a desire to stay in Europe to follow the security situation here as tensions rise on Russia's border with Ukraine.

Amnesty International, among others, has called for global figures to use the games to try and pressure China to change its ways.

"The Beijing Olympic Games promise to be a memorable sporting spectacle, but the watching world cannot wilfully ignore what is happening elsewhere in China: the lawyers and activists imprisoned for their peaceful work; the sexual assault survivors punished for speaking up; the thousands estimated to be executed each year; the Muslim ethnic groups facing systematic mass internment, torture and persecution," said (siirryt toiseen palveluun) Alkan Akad, Amnesty International’s China Researcher, in a statement last week.

Among other countries, the United States, Britain, Canada, Lithuania and Denmark have said they will not send political or diplomatic representation to the games.