On Tuesday, June 15, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) urged President Joe Biden to protect U.S. athletes competing in the 2022 Winter Olympics in China. He warned of a possible attempt by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to collect athletes’ DNA, among other concerns.

The senator detailed his concerns in a letter to Biden, from whom he requested more information on how the United States will prepare for next year’s games in Beijing. He argued that the 2022 Olympics pose “unique challenges to the security and privacy of Americans attending,” due to the CCP’s history of forced DNA extraction for a variety of obscure purposes.

The letter was posted on Cotton’s official website, in which he wrote that China “considers DNA collection a vital target for its intelligence apparatus,” warning that officials should be aware of possible efforts by the CCP to obtain samples from athletes.

“In 2022, thousands of world-class athletes will gather to compete in China. Their DNA will present an irresistible target for the [Chinese Communist Party],” Cotton said. “Thus, we should expect that the Chinese {unelected] government will attempt to collect genetic samples of Olympians at the Games, perhaps disguised as testing for illegal drugs or COVID-19.”

On the Senate floor Tuesday, Cotton openly called on the United States to boycott the Beijing Olympics unless the athletes’ safety and privacy are guaranteed. 

“If the safety, security, and privacy of our athletes cannot be guaranteed, the United States must adopt a total and complete boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics,” his Twitter post read.

The Republican senator in his letter pointed to the CCP’s “invasive domestic surveillance system,” as another argument for vigilance and also warned that U.S. Olympians attending the Beijing games would be “subject to arbitrary detention in China, particularly those who have spoken out against China on a range of issues.”

For his part, Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott warned that NBC, which will be in charge of broadcasting the event, should demand that the International Olympic Committee remove the 2022 Olympics from China because of its human rights abuses, especially considering its treatment of its Uighur Muslim minority.

“NBC’s own reporting has detailed the horrors faced by Uighurs in Xinjiang and the genocide being committed against them by the government of Communist China,” the Senator said in a statement. “Yet this American network continues to turn a blind eye to Communist China’s atrocities when it comes to allowing Beijing to host the 2022 Olympic Games.”

Cotton’s warning is not an isolated case. There is growing pressure from various quarters to use China’s plethora of human rights abuses to argue for a change of venue for the next Winter Olympics.

“China deserves our condemnation. The Chinese Communist Party has reneged on its agreement to allow Hong Kong self-rule. It has brutally repressed peaceful protesters and imprisoned respected journalists,” wrote Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) in an op-ed published by the New York Times in mid-March.

In the article, Romney calls for a U.S. economic and diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Winter Games because of the accumulation of proven human rights violations under the Chinese regime.

Zumretay Arkin, the spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress and 160 other human rights groups, sent an open letter last year to International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach requesting that the upcoming Winter Olympics Beijing be withdrawn from China.

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