2022 Beijing Olympics: Chinese Media Accuses U.S. of Attempting to Disrupt Winter Games: Report

by Jennifer Shea

China’s foreign ministry and Chinese state media are now accusing the United States of trying “sabotage” the Beijing Winter Olympics. They say the U.S. is paying athletes to throw the competition and bash China.

The accusations come after a recent diplomatic boycott of the Beijing event by the U.S. and several other countries, Reuters reports. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing on Saturday denied that Washington is spearheading an international effort to undermine the Olympics.

China Daily is a publication of the Chinese Communist Party’s publicity department. On Friday, it ran with claims from anonymous sources saying the U.S. is trying to “incite athletes from various countries to express their discontent toward China.” It further said the U.S. wants the athletes to “play passively in competition and even refuse to take part.” It said the U.S. is paying the athletes. And it claimed the U.S. is “mobiliz[ing] global resources” to safeguard the reputations of athletes who throw the competition.

The Chinese foreign ministry backed that report on Saturday. It told Reuters that China Daily has “exposed the real intention of some Americans to politicize sports and to sabotage and interfere with the Beijing Winter Olympics.”

“We were not and are not coordinating a global campaign regarding participation at the Olympics,” a U.S. Embassy spokesman told Reuters. “U.S. athletes are entitled to express themselves freely in line with the spirit and charter of the Olympics. [That] includes advancing human rights.”

Treatment of Uighurs, Taiwan, Hong Kong Raising Pre-Olympics Tensions

In announcing a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics, the White House cited China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses,” according to UPI. That’s a reference to the re-education camps in Xinjiang Province. China is holding an estimated 1 million Uighurs there, most of them Muslim. Researchers say China is committing abuses such as torture, forced sterilization and forced labor in the camps.

Also raising tensions between China and the U.S. are the issues of Hong Kong and Taiwan. In Hong Kong, China is cracking down following protests over a controversial national security law that criminalizes dissent. Meanwhile, China has said it views Taiwan as a breakaway province. And it has pledged to retake Taiwan by force if necessary.

Despite the diplomatic boycott, U.S. athletes are still competing in the Olympics. So the move falls short of the full boycott that human rights groups advocate.

Having failed to convince the administration to go with a full boycott of the Olympics, rights groups are turning their attention to NBC, which generates 40 percent of all International Olympic Committee profits.

“First is the moral question,” the Tibet Action Institute’s Lhadon Tethong told the Associated Press. “Is it OK to host an international goodwill sporting event such as the Olympic Games while the host nation is committing genocide just beyond the stands?”

Athletes have said they feel caught in the middle. But despite the diplomatic boycott and despite China’s recent accusations, the Olympics appear to be going ahead as planned.