The COC and CPC have stated that a boycott would not be effective ©Getty Images

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) have released a joint statement saying that a "boycott is not the answer" for Beijing 2022, as part of one-year-to-go celebrations.

Politicians from Britain, Australia and the United States have called for a boycott due to China's alleged human rights abuses of Uyghur Muslims and in Hong Kong, accusations the host nation has repeatedly denied.

The United Nations estimates that at least one million Uyghurs and other indigenous Muslims have been detained in "counterextremism centres" in Xinjiang.

Former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were both detained in China in December 2018 and were charged with spying in June 2020.

The arrests were made just days after Meng Wanzhou - an executive of the Chinese communications giant Huawei - was detained in Vancouver at the request of the US.

"Over the past few months, we have started to hear rumblings of a proposed boycott of the Beijing Games," read the COC and CPC statement.

"China's troubling human rights record, the oppression of the Uyghur minority and the continued detention of two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, are deeply concerning for us.

Muslims in the Chinese province of Xinjiang have reportedly been taken to
Muslims in the Chinese province of Xinjiang have reportedly been taken to "counterextremism" camps, sparking accusations of human rights abuses ©Getty Images

"In no way are we at the COC and CPC trying to minimise what is happening in China, but a boycott is not the answer.

"Rather, we believe the interests of all Canadians, and the global community, are advanced through competing and celebrating great Canadian performances and values on the Olympic and Paralympic stage."

The statement backs the decision by the G20 to commit to the Beijing 2022 Games, which suggested there are "substantial tools" for Governments to address the alleged human rights breaches without the need to involve national teams.

"An Olympic and Paralympic boycott is not among them," the Canadian statement added.

"In fact, the Games help build connections and open doors to utilise those tools.

"Canada maintains diplomatic relations with China.

"We have an ambassador, an embassy and consulates, we have billions of dollars in annual bilateral trade, we court billions of dollars in investment from China and we encourage Chinese students to study in Canada.

"Yet critics are calling for us to stop Canadian athletes from participating as the first order of business to reshape our relationship with China.

"We believe this amounts to little more than a convenient and politically inexpensive alternative to real and meaningful diplomacy.

"Boycotts don't work, they punish only the athletes prevented from going, those they were meant to compete against and those who would have been inspired by them."

The Moscow 1980 Olympics were boycotted by 66 countries ©Getty Images
The Moscow 1980 Olympics were boycotted by 66 countries ©Getty Images

The statement said the US boycott of the Moscow 1980 Summer Games was an example of a boycott not working. 

The Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan which prompted the move did not end due to the boycott, it is argued, and only led to retaliatory boycotts from the Eastern Bloc at Los Angeles 1984.

"Faced with only two options - go or don't go - our approach is to be present and join the conversation," the statement continues.

"We believe we can amplify voices and use people-to-people connections to effect change, regardless of how aspirational or difficult that might seem at times."

Previously, 13 Canadian Members of Parliament from all five major federal parties in the country signed a letter urging the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to move the Beijing 2022 Olympics to another country due to the alleged human rights abuses.

But voices including Canadian IOC member Richard Pound and COC secretary general David Shoemaker have rejected the move, and the IOC has insisted that it must remain politically neutral.

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are scheduled to take place from February 4 to 20 next year, with the Paralympics due to follow from March 4 to 13.