WELLINGTON. New Zealand. (AP). _ Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated Wednesday that the United States will be joining it in a diplomatic boycott against the Beijing Winter Games. This is due to human rights concerns.

Morrison said it should come as no surprise that Australian officials would boycott the event after the nation’s relationship with China had broken down over recent years.

“I’m doing it because it’s in Australia’s national interest,” Morrison said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

He claimed that Australian athletes could still compete.

As well as citing human rights abuses, Morrison said China had been very critical of Australia’s efforts to have a strong defense force in the region “particularly in relation, most recently, to our decision to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.”

He stated that his government would be happy to have talks with China on their differences.

“There’s been no obstacle to that occurring on our side, but the Chinese government has consistently not accepted those opportunities for us to meet,” Morrison said.

The games are being boycotted by rights groups, who accuse China of committing human rights violations against minorities. While the Australian and U.S. decisions are not in line with those requests, they were made at a very turbulent time in international relations. This has been met by a torrent of criticisms from China.

The Australian Olympic Committee said the arrangements for the 40 or so Australian athletes expected to compete at the games would not be impacted by Morrison’s announcement.

“Getting the athletes to Beijing safely, competing safely and bringing them home safely remains our greatest challenge,” said Matt Carroll, the committee’s chief executive.

“Our Australian athletes have been training and competing with this Olympic dream for four years now and we are doing everything in our power to ensure we can help them succeed,” Carroll said in a statement.

Source: HuffPost.com.

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