China confident of triumphant Games amid boycott buzz

Top News | BLOOMBERG, REUTERS 8 Apr 2021

China says it is confident the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing would be a success, dismissing concerns about a potential boycott from the United States and its allies.

"We have confidence that we will work with all parties to ensure a successful and extraordinary Olympic grand event," foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said yesterday in Beijing. "Politicizing sports runs counter to the spirit of the Olympic institution."

Zhao said a boycott would harm the interests of athletes, adding the "US Olympic Committee and the rest of the international community will not accept that."

Earlier in Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price, in response to a question about whether the United States is consulting with allies on a possible boycott, said: "It is something that we certainly wish to discuss."

Price added that a "coordinated approach will be not only in our interest, but also in the interest of our allies and partners. So, this is one of the issues that is on the agenda, both now and going forward. And when we have something to announce we will be sure to do that."

Price later clarified in an e-mail that he was referring to the United States having a coordinated approach rather than specifically discussing a joint boycott.

He subsequently tweeted that there was nothing new to announce. "2022 remains a ways off, but we will continue to consult closely with allies and partners to define our common concerns and establish our shared approach to [China]."

Still, the earlier comments reverberated around the globe. Weibo banned searches of "boycotting Winter Olympics."

The Biden administration has come under increasing pressure from some human rights groups and lawmakers to boycott the games over Beijing's treatment of Uygurs in Xinjiang. Last year, more than 160 rights groups urged the International Olympic Committee to hold the Games somewhere else.

China has previously said any effort to boycott the Olympics, set to begin on February 4, 2022, would be "doomed to failure."

It is not clear how much international support there would be for a boycott. Previous boycotts during the Cold War had little lasting impact on political issues of the day and the IOC has been focused on getting this year's delayed Summer Games in Japan on track.

But the fact that the United States would not rule out a boycott is the latest signal of how far China-US ties have fallen in recent years, a victim of issues ranging from Xinjiang and Hong Kong to claims in the South China Sea.

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