The Chinese government warned Washington on Wednesday not to boycott next year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing after the Biden administration said it spoke with allies about a concerted approach to complaints about human rights violations.
A State Department spokesman dismissed allegations of abuse against ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region. He warned of an unspecified “robust Chinese response” to a possible Olympic boycott.
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“The politicization of sport will harm the spirit of the Olympic Charter and the interests of athletes from all countries,” said spokesman Zhao Lijian. “The international community, including the US Olympic Committee, will not accept it.”
Human rights groups are protesting China’s host of the games, which kick off in February 2022. They have pushed for a boycott or other measures to draw attention to allegations of Chinese abuse against Uyghurs, Tibetans and Hong Kong residents.
The US State Department suggested an Olympic boycott was a possibility, but a senior official later said a boycott was not discussed. The International Olympic Committee and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee have said in the past that they are against boycotts.
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White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday that the White House is not looking to boycott the 2022 Olympics.
“We have not discussed or are discussing any joint boycotts with allies and partners,” she said.
When asked if the US government would discourage Americans from traveling to China, Psaki said the Biden administration hopes that by the time of the event, “we will be at a point where enough people across the country and hopefully around the world will get to have been vaccinated “. against COVID-19.