China warns US and its allies not to boycott Beijing Games, politicize the Olympics

Cheryl Teh
·3 min read
A Chinese flag flutters in front of the International Olympic Committee's headquarters. Fabrice Coffrini/Getty Images
  • Chinese officials said the US would face a "robust response" if it boycotts the Winter Olympics.

  • This warning came after the US said it was in talks with "allies" to boycott the Beijing Games.

  • Japan has also quickly denied that it is in talks with the US over a possible Winter Olympics boycott.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

China has cautioned the US that any hint of a boycott of next year's Winter Olympics in Beijing would be met with a "robust Chinese response."

"The politicization of sports will damage the spirit of the Olympic Charter and the interests of athletes from all countries," said Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

"The international community, including the US Olympic Committee, will not accept it," he added.

The Washington Post reported that Zhao simultaneously rejected all allegations that the Chinese government was abusing ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Insider reported on Wednesday that the US was mulling a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, over concerns about the Chinese government's record on human rights. The US opposes the Chinese government's treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, its cultural and religious oppression of the Tibetan people, and its political stranglehold over Hong Kong's electoral system.

The Beijing Winter Olympics are set to open on Feb. 4 next year, and China has continually denied all charges of human rights abuses, even in the face of sanctions from the US and EU.

"These Games remain some time away. I wouldn't want to put a timeframe on it, but these discussions are underway," spokesperson Ned Price said in a State Department press briefing. "A coordinated approach will not only be in our interest but also in the interest of our allies and partners."

"This is one of the issues that are on the agenda, both now and going forward," Price added, clarifying as well that a final decision on whether or not to move forward with a boycott had not been arrived at.

Yahoo Sports later reported that an unnamed State Department official said as well that no talks with allies about a joint boycott were ongoing, saying: "We have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners."

Japan was quick to distance itself from the tiff as well, as Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato denied on Wednesday that the country was in talks with the US on a possible boycott.

The US Olympic Committee told Insider yesterday that they opposed Games boycotts, considering the negative impact that these withdrawals could have on athletes.

"We believe the more effective course of action is for the governments of the world and China to engage directly on human rights and geopolitical issues," said the committee in a statement to Insider.

The US last boycotted the Olympics during the 1980 Moscow Games, after the Soviet Union failed to meet then-president Jimmy Carter's deadline to pull its troops out of Afghanistan.

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