China Calls U.S. Olympic Boycott a 'Political Farce' that Violates Spirit of the Games

China has spoken out about the U.S.'s plans to diplomatically boycott the 2022 Beijing Games, calling it a "farce" that undermines the spirit of the Olympics, according to the Associated Press.

The Biden administration announced plans on Monday to not send diplomats to the Olympics next year due to human rights concerns, the Ap reported. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a conference that U.S. athletes will still be able to attend, but that they hold a "fundamental commitment to promoting human rights" and thus will not send representatives. This move comes as the two countries are attempting to work together to curb climate change.

The U.S. and human rights organizations have accused the country of a multitude of crimes, including suppressing elections in Hong Kong and enacting human rights violations against Muslim Uyghurs, the AP reported. China has denied all such allegations.

However, they are criticizing the U.S. for their decision to pull potential diplomatic figures from the games. The country's United Nations mission referred to the boycott as a "self-directed political farce," while the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., said that "no one would care about whether these people come or not" in a tweet.

As for the country itself, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that the country will take appropriate action against the boycott, saying it "seriously violates the principle of political neutrality of sports established by the Olympic Charter and runs counter to the Olympic motto 'more united.'"

During a press conference, Zhao said that "resolute countermeasures" will be implemented against the U.S. as a result of the diplomatic boycott. While he did not go into detail about what these countermeasures entail, they could affect the future of the climate change agreement the two countries vowed to uplift. Newsweek previously reported that the threat of the recently-minted agreement goes as far back as January 28, 2021, with Zhao saying that the country is ready to cooperate with the U.S. on such issues for a price.

"China has emphasized time and again that no one should imagine they could ask China to understand and support them in bilateral and global affairs when they blatantly interfere in China's domestic affairs and undermine China's interests," Zhao said at the time. "We hope the U.S. can create favorable conditions for coordination and cooperation with China in major areas."

It is currently unknown which representatives that the U.S. originally planned to send.

Beijing 2022
U.S. announced a diplomatic boycott of the games due to human rights violations. Above, a visitor walks by the logos for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics at Shougang, a former power plant that now also houses the headquarters of the Beijing Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games, on December 7, 2021, in Beijing, China. The games are set to open on February 4, 2022. Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Rights groups have pushed for a full-blown boycott of the games, accusing China of rights abuses against ethnic minorities. The U.S. decision falls short of those calls but comes at an exceptionally turbulent time for relations between the powerhouse nations and was met with a barrage of criticism from China.

The U.S. is attempting to interfere with the Beijing Games "out of ideological prejudice and based on lies and rumors," said Zhao.

Other major countries have yet to say if they will follow the American lead.

Zhao warned the U.S. to "stop politicizing sports" and cease what he said were actions undermining the Beijing Winter Olympics, "otherwise it will undermine the dialogue and cooperation between the two countries in a series of important areas and international issues."

Even the ruling Communist Party's notoriously opaque Central Commission for Discipline Inspection issued a response in the form of a lengthy screed on its website entitled "The Spirit of the Olympic Charter Cannot be Tarnished."

"Some Western anti-China politicians" have shown a "defensive Cold War mentality aimed at politicizing sport," the article said, calling that a "clear violation of the Olympic spirit and a challenge to all people who love the Olympic movement."

People on the streets of Beijing were overall dismissive of the U.S. move.

"I don't think it matters at all if they would come or not. The Olympic Games are not about one country or a couple of countries," said coffee shop employee Deng Tao.

"Such remarks from someone we never invited are simply a farce. And I don't think it will have much impact on the holding of the Winter Olympics," Lu Xiaolei, who works in trade.

Amid the calls for a boycott, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Tuesday that the country would make its own decision "from the perspective of national interests, taking into consideration the significance of the Olympic Games and the significance of Japan's diplomacy."

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said a decision on officials attending would be made "at an appropriate time."

"In any case, Japan hopes that the Beijing Winter Games will be held as a celebration of peace in line with the principles of the Olympic and Paralympic Games," Matsuno said.

South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson Choi Young-sam declined to comment on the U.S. decision and said the ministry had not received any request from its ally not to send officials.

South Korea hopes the Beijing Olympics will "contribute to peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia and the world and help improve relations between South and North Korea," Choi said.

New Zealand said Tuesday it won't be attending the games at a diplomatic level, but that it made the decision earlier due mostly to pandemic travel restrictions.

The country told China in October about its plans not to send government ministers, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said.

"But we've made clear to China on numerous occasions our concerns about human rights issues," Robertson said.

Australia, whose relations with China have grown increasingly tense, has yet to say whether it will send dignitaries.

The dispatching of high-level delegations to each Olympics has long been a tradition among the U.S. and other leading nations. Then-President George W. Bush attended the opening of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Summer Games. First lady Jill Biden led the American contingent to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo this year and second gentleman Doug Emhoff led a delegation to the Paralympic Games.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Zhao Lijian
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian invites questions during a press conference in Beijing, China, Tuesday, December 7, 2021. China on Tuesday accused the United States of violating the Olympic spirit by announcing an American diplomatic boycott of February's Beijing Winter Games. AP Photo/Liu Zheng