A Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star, a Paralympic swimmer and a self-described “brand king” were among the Instagram and TikTok influencers who were paid by Chinese officials for a discreet campaign that promoted the Beijing Winter Olympics, new Justice Department documents reveal.
The Biden administration will not pressure companies to drop their sponsorship of the Beijing Olympics, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said. “What individual companies do is entirely up to them. We’re not going to pressure them one way or another,” Raimondo said in an editorial board with Bloomberg reporters and editors Thursday.
U.S. athletes would still compete under such a boycott, a step that President Joe Biden had said he was contemplating last month. Now, Biden has made his decision to move forward with the boycott, which means the president won’t dispatch U.S. dignitaries to attend the games.
Starting this month, much of the marketing has been around TV promotional spots — some 1,529 spots on NBCUniversal channels and networks — yielding 386.3 million impressions, with media value of an estimated $11.1 million, according to iSpot.tv.
The United States is “considering” a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, President Biden told reporters on Thursday. The president’s remarks come amid a broader discussion of China’s role as the host the Winter Games because of its record on human rights abuses.
The request comes in an open letter from rights groups representing minorities in China, including Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hong Kong residents and others. The letter, obtained by the Associated Press, was sent Tuesday to NBCUniversal Chief Executive Officer Jeff Shell and other international broadcast executives. NBC is paying $7.75 billion for the rights to the next six Olympics and works closely as a partner with the Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee.
The league reached an agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation to pause its schedule in February to allow skaters to represent their countries in Beijing.