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New Zealand won't send diplomats to Beijing Olympics, cites COVID-19

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WELLINGTON, Dec 7 (Reuters) - New Zealand will not be sending diplomatic representatives at a ministerial level to the Beijing Winter Olympics in February, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said on Tuesday, citing COVID-19 as the reason.

The comments come after the United States said this week that it would not send government officials to the 2022 Winter Olympics due to China's human rights "atrocities". read more

"We've already made clear that we won't be there at a ministerial level," Robertson told reporters in parliament when asked about New Zealand's position after the U.S. diplomatic boycott of the games, state broadcaster TVNZ said.

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A woman walks past the Beijing 2022 logo that is seen outside the headquarters of the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Shougang Park, the site of a former steel mill, in Beijing, China, November 10, 2021. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Robertson said the move was not due to U.S. decision.

"There was a range of factors but mostly to do with COVID, and the fact that the logistics of travel and so on around COVID are not conducive to that kind of trip," he said, adding that New Zealand's decision was communicated to China in October.

He emphasised that New Zealand had raised its human rights' concerns with China previously.

"We've made clear to China on numerous occasions our concerns about human rights issues - as recently as the Prime Minister talking to President Xi. They're well aware of our view on human rights but we'd already made that decision not to attend," he said.

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Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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