China warns US and its allies not to boycott Beijing Games, politicize the Olympics
A Chinese flag flutters in front of the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee. Fabrice Coffrini / Getty Images
Chinese officials said the US would get a "robust response" if it boycotted the Winter Olympics.
The 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 negotiating a possible boycott of the Winter Olympics with the US.
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China has warned the US that any hint of a boycott of the Winter Olympics next year in Beijing would meet with a "robust Chinese response".
"The politicization of sport will damage the spirit of the Olympic Charter and the interests of athletes from all over the world," said Zhao Lijian, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
"The international community, including the US Olympic Committee, will not accept this," he added.
The Washington Post reported that Zhao simultaneously denied allegations that the Chinese government abused ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
Insider reported Wednesday that the US is considering boycotting the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing because of concerns about the Chinese government's human rights situation. The US rejects the treatment of Uighur Muslims by the Chinese government in Xinjiang, its cultural and religious oppression of the Tibetan people and its political stranglehold on the Hong Kong electoral system.
The Beijing Winter Olympics are slated to open on February 4 next year, and China has consistently denied all human rights abuse charges despite US and EU sanctions.
"These games are still some time away. I don't want to set a time frame, but these discussions are ongoing," said spokesman Ned Price at a press conference for the State Department. "A coordinated approach will not only be in our interests, but also in the interests of our allies and partners."
"This is one of the issues that will be on the agenda now and in the future," Price added, making it clear that a final decision on whether or not to continue the boycott had not yet been made.
Yahoo Sports later reported that an unnamed U.S. State Department official also said there would be no talks with allies about a joint boycott. He said: "We have not discussed and are not discussing a joint boycott with allies and partners."
Japan also quickly distanced itself from the dispute when cabinet chief Katsunobu Kato denied on Wednesday that the country had negotiated a possible boycott with the US.
The U.S. Olympic Committee told Insider yesterday that they are against boycotting the Games, given the negative impact these withdrawals could have on athletes.
"We believe that the governments of the world and China must act more effectively to deal directly with human rights and geopolitical issues," the committee said in a statement to Insider.
The US last boycotted the Olympic Games during the 1980 Moscow Games after the Soviet Union failed to meet then-President Jimmy Carter's deadline for the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan.
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