The Chinese government has warned Washington not to boycott next year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing after the Joe Biden administration said it was talking to allies about a joint approach to human rights abuses.
A foreign ministry spokesman has denied allegations of abuse of ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region. He warned of an unspecified “strong Chinese response” to a potential boycott of the Olympics.
“The politicization of sport will damage the spirit of the Olympic Charter and the interests of athletes from all over,” said spokesman Zhao Lijiang.
“The international community, including the US Olympic Committee, will not accept it.”
Human rights groups are protesting against hosting the Games in China, which is set to begin in February 2022. They are calling for a boycott or other measures to address accusations of Chinese abuse against Uighurs, Tibetans and Hong Kongers.
The US State Department suggested that the Olympic boycott was among the possibilities, but a senior official said the boycott was not discussed later.
The International Olympic Committee and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committees have said in the past that they oppose the boycott.
This opposition was reiterated by Susanne Lyons, chairman of the board of directors of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, at a media summit on Wednesday.
“We at USOPC oppose boycotts of athletes because they have been shown to have a negative impact on athletes, having not dealt effectively with global issues in the past,” Lions said.
The committee does not want to “minimize the serious human rights problems that are happening in China”, but believes that diplomats and trade and other government officials are better prepared to address such concerns and “young athletes should be used as political pawns on these issues, “Lyon said.
Boycotts also put “unfair pressure” on corporate sponsors, who provide most of the financial support for athletes and sports programs in the long run, not just for specific events, she said.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday that the White House is not looking to boycott the 2022 Olympics.
“We have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners,” she said.
Asked if the US government would discourage Americans from traveling to China, Psaki said the Biden administration hoped that at the time of the event, “we are at a time when enough people have been vaccinated across the country and hopefully around the world.” “against COVID-19.