A woman photographs the ski and snowboard tracks set up for the Olympics in Shougang Park in Beijing on December 7, 2021 (AFP / Noel Celis)
China expressed its anger on Tuesday after the United States announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, in the name of the defense of human rights.
The United States will send its athletes but no diplomatic representative to the 2022 Olympics due to human rights violations by China, particularly in the predominantly Muslim region of Xinjiang (northwest), the White House announced on Monday, ignoring Chinese warnings.
Asked to respond during a press briefing, Chinese diplomacy spokesman Zhao Lijian accused the United States of having violated the principle of political neutrality in sport.
“The United States’ attempt to disrupt the Beijing Winter Olympics, based on ideological prejudice, lies and rumors, will only expose to all eyes the malicious intentions of the United States,” a- he said.
Mr. Zhao again called the accusations by Western countries about the situation in Xinjiang “a lie of the century.”
Asked by AFP about possible reprisals from Beijing, the spokesman kicked in touch: “The United States will pay the price for their bad move. Stay tuned”.
Two months before the Olympics, some Beijingers have expressed their resentment.
“It is a lack of respect towards the athletes, don’t you think?”, Railed Mr. Han, a retired civil servant, met in Beijing not far from the Olympic park. “Athletes have been training for years (for the Games) and the United States has said without any embarrassment that their diplomats will not come. The American government is cowardly.”
In Russia, “we recommend that Olympic affairs remain free of all politics,” reacted Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov. Accused since 2015 of having set up an institutional doping system, Russia is suspended from major international competitions until 2022, its anthem, flag and even its name being banned.
France, she indicated that she was going to “coordinate at European level” to decide on a reaction.
– “Less viruses” –
In Washington, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki justified the Biden administration’s decision on Monday.
By being present, “the American diplomatic representation would treat these Games as if nothing had happened, despite the gross human rights violations and China’s atrocities in Xinjiang. And we just cannot do that,” she said. declared.
“The Team USA athletes have our full support. We will be 100% behind them while we cheer them on from here,” she added.
“Frankly, the Chinese are relieved to hear the news, because the fewer American officials there are, the fewer viruses there will be,” the Chinese tabloid Global Times quipped on Twitter.
Due to the restrictions imposed by China on the entry of foreigners in the name of the fight against Covid-19, few world politicians are expected to make the trip from Beijing, with the exception of Russian President Vladimir Putin, invited by his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
The logo of the 2022 Winter Olympics, at Shougang Park in Beijing on December 1, 2021 (AFP / Noel Celis)
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is delighted that Washington’s “political” decision does not call into question the participation of American athletes: “The presence of government officials and diplomats is a purely political decision for each government, that the CIO, in its political neutrality, fully respects, “said a spokesperson.
– Beijing “doesn’t care” –
For months, the US government had sought a position with regard to the Winter Games, a popular and global event organized from February 4 to 20, 2022 by a country that it accuses of perpetrating a “genocide” against Uyghur Muslims in the United States. Xinjiang.
Several human rights organizations accuse Beijing of having interned at least a million Muslims in Xinjiang in “re-education camps”.
The United States will not send any diplomatic representatives to the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (AFP / -)
The Chinese authorities systematically denounce “the interference” of Westerners who condemn this situation, assuring that they are “vocational training centers” to support employment and combat religious extremism.
The American diplomatic boycott is a new bone of contention with China in the field of sport, after the Peng Shuai affair.
This tennis player, who has represented her country three times at the Olympics, accused a former senior Chinese leader in early November of forcing her to have sex three years ago.
Worried about the player, the WTA, the body that oversees professional women’s tournaments in the United States, decided last week to withdraw China from its circuit.
sbr-tjx-bar / mba / pz