BEIJING (Reuters) – China does not plan to invite Western politicians who threaten a diplomatic boycott to the Beijing Winter Olympics, Chinese state media said on Monday, after U.S. President Joe Biden and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said their countries might limit an official presence at the Games.
The country has not invited U.S. politicians to attend the Winter Games and has no plans to invite a large number of foreign guests because of Covid-19 risks, the Global Times said, citing an anonymous person familiar with the organisation of the Games.
Activists and members of the U.S. Congress from both parties have been pressing the Biden administration to diplomatically boycott the event. The U.S. government accuses China of carrying out a genocide against Muslim ethnic groups in its western Xinjiang region, an allegation Beijing denies.
China has repeatedly condemned calls for a diplomatic boycott, in which countries do not send officials to attend the opening ceremony, as “malicious hype”.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a news conference last Friday that China has received 1,528 applications from the U.S. Olympic Committee, which is responsible for submitting names of U.S. athletes and officials to attend the Winter Games. Zhao did not specify who the applications were for.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is the only leader of a major country who has accepted China’s invitation to attend the Winter Olympics.
(Reporting by Yew Lun Tian. Editing by Gerry Doyle)