There are young Americans who have spent most of their lives in training. Unlike others, they arent assured a chance to compete, let alone a chance to win, in what theyre training for. Many of them have to pay for their preparation themselves, and if theyre lucky, they get a single shot to compete. 

They are training, of course, for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. And its unconscionable that we would take away their right to compete next year in Beijing at the 2022 Winter Olympics. 

To be clear, I and many others hope that the International Olympic Committee comes to its senses and moves the 2022 Olympic Winter Games out of Beijing. As someone who was sanctioned twice by the government of China, I am flabbergasted that the IOC would ever give this human rights-abusing, free speech-repressing, trade-and-currency manipulating set of totalitarians who make up the Chinese Communist Party the honor of hosting the Olympic Games in the first place. Heres hoping that reason prevails and the Games are sent to any place but China. 

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That said, we have tried this boycott business before, and it utterly failed.  

President Jimmy Carter threatened an Olympic boycott against the Soviet Union in 1980. Once he considered it, he fell deeper into it, even when it was clear that the boycott would fail. We all know how the movie ends  the Carter administration instituted a boycott, the Soviet Union didnt blink, and almost 500 American athletes had their Olympic dreams crushed.  

The Carter boycott was terrible policy, and it hurt the athletes and no one else. Leave it to Joe Biden to mimic Jimmy Carter within two months of his presidency, by suggesting another boycott may be on the table.  

The worst thing we can do to stand up to China is to keep our athletes home. As anyone who has ever faced down a bully knows, when you decide to hide and not to fight, the bully wins.  

Our athletes should go to Beijing next year proudly, bring home medal after medal, and show the world what it means to compete on behalf of a free society. We shouldnt give China an easy way to run up its medal count by preventing Americans from going to the Olympics. 

American leaders also need to send our athletes a clear and unmistakable message: We stand with you.  

Further, floating the idea of a boycott shows that the Biden administration does not have a China strategy and, in their fumbling, they would use American athletes as pawns to look tough on China instead of actually getting tough on China.  

What we really need from this administration is for them to pursue policies that will hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for its censorship, espionage, propaganda and human rights abuses. We need to crush the Chinese Communist Party, not the dreams of American athletes. 

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American leaders also need to send our athletes a clear and unmistakable message: We stand with you.  

Some have callously suggested that the athletes will move on, or get over it, or that this sacrifice is small in context. I disagree wholeheartedly. Many athletes and their families have built their entire lives around the possibility of Olympic competition. A boycott is no small matter to them, and we cannot casually cast aside their views. 

It is our responsibility and duty to make sure that our athletes go to Beijing, compete confidently and safely, and return home triumphantly. Nothing would be worse than sending them with a half-hearted public commitment, which is what the Biden administration has done by not firmly closing the door on a boycott. 

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Athletes need to know that we are proud of them and their efforts. The scars from 1980 did not heal quickly, and we cannot and should not inflict those same wounds on this generation of American Olympians.  

Our athletes must go to Beijing and win. 

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