On Dec. 28, the White House confirmed that the U.S. will be sending 18 officials to the upcoming Winter Olympics, which are scheduled to be held in Beijing in February 2022.
This comes after the Biden administration announced a diplomatic boycott of the Games on Dec. 7 over the communist regime’s widespread human rights abuses.
A State Department spokesperson said on Dec. 28 that the purpose in sending the officials was to provide “consular and diplomatic security services” for American athletes, and did not constitute official or diplomatic representation.
The spokesperson further stated that the Biden administration’s position remained unchanged after China confirmed it had received visa applications from U.S. officials planning to visit Beijing during the Games.
“We intend to provide consular and diplomatic security services to ensure our athletes, coaches, trainers and staff are secure and have access to the American citizen services that we provide to all US citizens overseas,” the spokesperson said.
The Chinese foreign ministry confirmed on Dec. 27 that they had received applications from several American officials who had applied for Chinese visas specifically to attend the Beijing Olympics.
“The Chinese side has received the visa applications from relevant US personnel,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters during a daily briefing. “Earlier, the US side, driven by political manipulation, directed and staged a farce of not sending a diplomatic or official delegation to the Beijing Winter Olympics even though no invitation had been extended.”
“This sort of rhetoric is puzzling,” Zhao said.
However, Zhao confirmed that the Chinese government would process the visa applications “in accordance with international customary practice, relevant regulations, and the principle of reciprocity.”
The global sporting event has faced growing criticism and diplomatic boycotts by several countries in the West who have accused the Chinese government of large scale human rights violations.
Activists have called for a total boycott of the Games, dubbing it the “Genocide Games,” after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been accused of rampant genocide and ethnic cleansing targeting Uyghur Muslims and Tibetans. The CCP has also severely persecuted religious believers, including Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong practitioners and Christians around the country.
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The U.S., U.K, Canada and Australia have all announced that they will not be sending any diplomatic or official representation to the Games. Traditionally, high-level delegations are sent to each Olympic games. For the Summer Olympics held in Tokyo this year, first lady Jill Biden embarked on her first international solo trip leading an American contingent, while second gentleman Doug Emhoff also led a delegation to the Paralympic Games in August.