China’s foreign ministry and state-run media have accused the U.S. of attempting to “sabotage” the Beijing Winter Olympics by paying international athletes to compete half-heartedly and disparaging China.

China Daily is an English-language newspaper run by the government’s Chinese Publicity Department. The newspaper reported that the United States has a strategy to “incite athletes from other countries to voice their dissatisfaction with China, play passively in competition, and even refuse to participate.”

If athletes choose to mistreat the game, Washington will reimburse them and “use worldwide resources to help safeguard their reputations.”

When questioned if the China Daily’s accusation was genuine, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry told Reuters on Saturday, Jan. 29, that the story “exposes the true intents of some Americans to politicize sports and sabotage and meddle with the Beijing Winter Olympics.”

But, the report did not present any evidence to back up its claims.

The U.S. embassy in China reacted strongly, claiming that Beijing intended to shift public attention away from the country’s severe human rights violations.

They told Reuters in an email sent to Reuters on Saturday, Jan. 29, “We were not and are not coordinating a global campaign regarding participation in the Olympics. Following the Olympic spirit and charter, which includes strengthening human rights, U.S. athletes can express themselves freely. China will continue to deceive the public about our judgments to draw attention away from its appalling human rights record.”

According to the New York Times, the U.S. is not prohibiting athletes from flying to Beijing to compete in the Winter Olympics, despite a diplomatic boycott. 

In light of China’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, the Biden administration announced at the time that no ambassadors or official representatives would be sent to the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. 

The U.S. administration is sending a “clear message” to the rest of the world that China’s human rights violations are no longer “business as usual.”

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