China says US diplomatic boycott of Winter Olympics could harm cooperation

BEIJING (REUTERS, XINHUA) – China warned on Tuesday (Dec 7) that a US diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics could harm two-way dialogue and co-operation in important areas, and called for politics to be kept out of sports.

The step, encouraged for months by some members of Congress and rights advocacy groups, comes just weeks after talks by leaders Joe Biden and Xi Jinping that aimed to ease tense relations between their nations.

On Monday, the White House said US government officials would boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing because of China’s human rights “atrocities”, although US athletes are free to travel there to compete.

China opposes the boycott and would take “resolute countermeasures”, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.

The United States’ “plot” of trying to disrupt the Olympics was doomed to fail, leading to a loss of “moral authority and credibility”, Mr Zhao told a regular media briefing in the Chinese capital.

He urged the US to stop bringing politics into sports, adding that the boycott went against Olympic principles.

A spokesman for the Chinese UN mission on Monday called the US boycott a self-directed political farce, Xinhua news agency reported. 

“Beijing Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games are a gathering for all winter sports athletes and fans around the world. It is they that should be in the spotlight. The success of the games does not rely on the attendance of a handful of countries’ government officials,” said the unnamed spokesman in a statement. 

“As the host country, China is ready for the Beijing Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, open to all athletes and guests. As for those who say they don’t want to come, the answer is that whether you come or not, the Beijing Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games are there, and will be a success.” 

The US government’s decision reflects its Cold War mentality and just wants to politicise sports, create divisions and provoke confrontation, the statement said.

The approach would find no support and is doomed to fail, it added.

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