China says US plans to pay athletes to ‘sabotage’ Beijing Games

U.S. Winter Olympics outfits Ralph Lauren Polo are pictured in the New York borough of Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 28, 2021. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

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BEIJING, Jan 29 (Reuters) – China’s Foreign Ministry and an official newspaper have accused the United States of planning to interfere with and “sabotage” the Beijing Winter Olympics by paying athletes from certain countries to make timid efforts to compete and criticize China.

The allegations were made a week before the start of the Games amid tensions between the two superpowers which included a diplomatic boycott of the event by the United States, which was joined by several other countries. Read more

Asked about the Chinese allegations, the US Embassy in Beijing on Saturday reiterated an earlier position that Washington was not coordinating a global campaign regarding Olympics participation.

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The China Daily, an English-language newspaper run by the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s Publicity Department, quoted unnamed sources on Friday evening as saying the United States had a plan to “encourage athletes from various countries to express their dissatisfaction with China, playing passively in competition and even refusing to participate”.

In return, he said, Washington would provide significant compensation and “mobilize global resources” to help protect the reputations of athletes who choose to compete passively.

Asked if China’s Foreign Ministry believed the allegation was founded, a ministry spokesman told Reuters on Saturday that the report had “exposed the true intent of some Americans to politicize sports, sabotage and interfere with the Beijing Winter Olympics”.

The spokesperson said he strongly condemned attempts by some Americans to “buy out” athletes and “sow trouble” during the Games, adding that such attempts were “doomed to failure”.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman told Reuters via email on Saturday: “We were not and are not coordinating a global campaign regarding Olympics participation.”

“American athletes have the right to express themselves freely in accordance with the spirit and charter of the Olympics, which includes the promotion of human rights,” the spokesperson said.

The United States in December announced a diplomatic boycott of the Games over what it called human rights “atrocities” in China, a move that was followed by allies Australia, Britain and Canada but which does not prevent American athletes from traveling to Beijing to compete.

China rejects allegations of human rights violations and has repeatedly denounced the politicization of the Games.

In a message next week to welcome the Chinese New Year, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told foreign diplomats based in China that China “has the confidence and ability to suppress interference” and to make of the Winter Games an event that promotes friendship. and mutual understanding.

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Reporting from Yew Lun Tian Editing by William Mallard and Frances Kerry

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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