Chinese officials warned the United States on Wednesday that a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing would prompt a “robust Chinese response.”
“The politicization of sports will damage the spirit of the Olympic Charter and the interests of athletes from all countries,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijan said (h/t AP). “The international community including the US Olympic Committee will not accept it.”
This comes a day after the State Department downplayed the idea that US President Joe Biden and his administration would discuss a joint international boycott of the 2022 Games with its allies due to China’s concerning human rights record.
Ned Price, a spokesman of the State Department, aired his concerns once again on Tuesday about accusations of genocide against Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region of China, although Beijing has denied that such events have taken place.
In March, President Biden sanctioned two Chinese officials for their alleged roles in serious human rights abuses against ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.
“Well, it is something that we certainly wish to discuss and that it is certainly something that we understand that a coordinated approach will be not only in our interests but also in the interests of our allies and partners,” He said. “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.”
It was shortly after Price’s comments, though, that the State Department backtracked.
“Our position on the 2022 Olympics has not changed,” a senior State Department official told CNBC. “We have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners.
“It’s better to go there and dominate.”
The United States and China have been on uncertain grounds for years after former President Donald Trump levied tariffs on billions of dollars of imports from China. Biden has done nothing to suggest that he would reverse such tariffs.