AOC doesn't expect athletes' Games boycott

AOC CEO Matt Carroll has welcomed the federal government's backing of Australia's Winter Olympians.
AOC CEO Matt Carroll has welcomed the federal government's backing of Australia's Winter Olympians.

The Australian Olympic Committee has ruled out any athletes boycotting next year's Winter Olympics, after the federal government opted not to send diplomats to Beijing.

Prime Minster Scott Morrison announced on Wednesday that Australia would join the United States and New Zealand in refusing to send officials to the Olympics, which open on February 4.

Morrison said the decision was made due to human rights abuses in China.

The federal government is still supporting the participation of the Australian team - expected to be about 40 athletes - which was welcomed by the AOC.

The AOC also confirmed it had been in contact with athletes, and was entirely confident none would follow the government's lead and stage individual boycotts.

"No athlete has expressed any concern or (intent) to boycott," CEO Matt Carroll said.

"Some of the athletes are already over there or have been to Beijing and the venues. There is no suggestion whatsoever.

"Athletes are entitled to their own opinions. We do advise them to take care, but they want to be focused on the competition.

"No one has expressed they are not going."

Carroll was adamant that sport should not deal in the world of politics, arguing it could instead unify.

He will still be joined in China by AOC president John Coates and vice-president Ian Chesterman before the February 4 opening ceremony.

"A diplomatic boycott is a matter for government," Carroll said.

"It's entirely up to the government and not a matter for us, as we are neutral. We are about the athletes and the team.

"Sport is an opportunity to bring the world together and bring athletes together from around the world.

"We don't deal with the world of politics."

Carroll also played down any security concerns surrounding as a result of the diplomatic boycott, claiming health was still the main safety issue.

It comes after the IOC ruled out any chance of postponement on Tuesday, claiming the world had learned to live with COVID-19.

"The biggest risk for the team is still COVID and the health risk," Carroll said.

"Security wise we are very confident. I have had a meeting with the Chinese consulate general in Sydney.

"The IOC is very across the security. And the organising committee is very committed to keeping the athletes and officials safe."

Australian Associated Press