GENEVA: Beijing is using its upcoming Winter Olympics to “sports wash” and gloss over its “horrible” human rights record, the head of Human Rights Watch warned, urging countries to join a diplomatic boycott. The United States, Britain, Australia and Canada have announced diplomatic boycotts of the Games, set to begin on February 4, over what they consider to be widespread rights abuses by China, including against the Muslim Uyghur minority in Xinjiang province. HRW executive director Kenneth Roth insisted that other countries should also refrain from sending senior officials to the Olympics to help “spotlight the mass atrocities” in the province, as well as China’s “crushing of basic freedoms in Hong Kong”. “The Chinese government is clearly trying to use the Beijing Olympics to whitewash or to sports wash its horrible repression,” he said in an interview ahead of Thursday’s publication of HRW’s annual report. He said HRW was not calling for athletes to boycott the Games but insisted that countries could not just “pretend that everything is normal.” “At a minimum, the international community should join the diplomatic boycott of the Olympics.” Roth also insisted that Olympic sponsors should take a stand. “Rather than in a sense announcing this whitewashing, (they) should be spotlighting what’s going on in Xinjiang,” he said. Campaigners say at least one million Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities have been incarcerated in “re-education camps” in the far western region. Beijing has defended the camps as vocational training centres aimed at reducing the appeal of Islamic extremism. Beyond diplomacy, Roth said companies also had a moral obligation to resist the abuses taking place in Xinjiang.