China's response to Biden on possible diplomatic boycott of the Games

The US president said his administration is "considering" a diplomatic boycott of the Games in reaction to human rights abuses by the Chinese government
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian

PHOTO/REUTERS/CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS  -   Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian

China said today that "sport cannot be politicised" because "it goes against the Olympic spirit and harms the interests of athletes", in response to US President Joe Biden, who said his government is considering a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing. 

"The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are a showcase for athletes from all over the world. Politicising sport is against the Olympic spirit and the interests of athletes," foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a news conference on Friday. 

He added that alleged human rights abuses by the Chinese government in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, which the United States is considering boycotting the Games, are nothing more than "a smear campaign". "China will never tolerate any country meddling in its internal affairs," he said. 

On Thursday, Biden said his administration is "considering" a diplomatic boycott of the Games, which would mean that neither Biden nor any other US official would attend the event. 

According to The Washington Post on Wednesday, the boycott would be in reaction to human rights abuses by the Chinese government. 

The newspaper indicated that the Biden administration could approve the boycott before the end of this month. 

Xi Jinping, presidente de China, y Joe Biden, presidente de Estados Unidos
PHOTO/FILE - Xi Jinping, President of China, and Joe Biden, President of the United States

Sources quoted by the newspaper indicated that the decision will be made independently of what was discussed in the virtual meeting last Monday (Tuesday in China) between Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. 

In its statement after the meeting, the White House did not mention that the Olympic Games had been discussed. 

The US government merely noted that Biden conveyed to Xi its concerns about practices in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, as well as about human rights in general. 

The Washington Post noted that for months, officials in Biden's administration have remained silent and declined to speculate on whether the president would support a full boycott of the games - which would mean no US athletes would participate - a partial boycott or none at all. 

Democratic and Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have advocated a diplomatic boycott in protest of human rights abuses in China.