(Bloomberg) -- China has no plan to ask any U.S. politicians to attend the Winter Olympics, according to the Communist Party-backed Global Times -- a report that comes after President Joe Biden said he’s weighing a diplomatic boycott of the event.
Efforts to fight the pandemic ruled out large-scale invitations, the newspaper said Monday, citing a person close to preparation for the games that it did not identify.
Still, the Global Times indicated politics played a role in the decision not to ask American officials to come. China viewed the success of the event as having nothing to do with the presence of some anti-China politicians from the West, the unidentified person was quoted as saying in the report.
“Without them messing things up, the Beijing Winter Olympics will be even more splendid,” the person was quoted as saying.
Why the Beijing Winter Olympics Are Facing Cold Winds: QuickTake
Biden said earlier this month that Washington would consider declining to send a delegation of government officials to the games in February, a call that U.S. lawmakers including U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have made. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said shortly after Biden’s comments that the U.S. had “serious concerns about the human rights abuses we’ve seen in Xinjiang.”
A United Nations assessment says an estimated 1 million members of ethnic minorities, including Muslim Uyghurs, have been detained in China’s far western Xinjiang region. That prompted the U.S., U.K., European Union and Canada to sanction Chinese officials and the Biden administration to accuse Beijing of genocide.
The government of Chinese leader Xi Jinping denies the allegations, saying it is providing education and job training to raise living standards in the impoverished region. It also responded with sanctions of its own.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Monday at a regular briefing in Beijing that the Winter games are “a gathering of winter sports lovers and athletes from around the word, not a stage for political posturing and manipulation.”
“The U.S. and a handful of countries make an issue of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games and link their officials’ attendance with so-called human rights issues,” he said. “This is in essence a smear campaign in the name of defending human rights.”
In September, Russian President Vladimir Putin became the first major head of state to commit to attending the Winter games. That move came as Beijing and Moscow bolstered ties, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying earlier this year that they’re the “best in history.”
First lady Jill Biden led a group of U.S. officials to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in July. She met former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his wife, Mariko Suga, during the visit.
(Updates with China Foreign Ministry comments.)
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