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Thursday, April 08, 2021, 18:00
White House: US not planning Beijing Olympics boycott
By Zhao Huanxin in Washington
Thursday, April 08, 2021, 18:00 By Zhao Huanxin in Washington

The Biden administration has not changed its position on the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, having neither discussed a joint boycott of the Games nor is it considering one currently, the White House said Wednesday, as the US Olympic Committee also reiterated its opposition to a boycott.

"Our position on the 2022 Olympics has not changed. We have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing.

It was the second time in two months that the White House clarified its position on the Olympics, scheduled in Beijing for Feb 4-20, about 300 days away.

"We, of course, consult closely with allies and partners at all levels to define our common concerns and establish a shared approach, but there's no discussion underway of a change in our plans regarding the Beijing Olympics from the United States' point of view," she reiterated on Wednesday.

Our position on the 2022 Olympics has not changed. We have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners.

Jen Psaki, White House press secretary

Asked if the US government is going to encourage American spectators to travel to China to view the Games, Psaki suggested that as the Winter Olympics are "some time away", spectators traveling may have to take the advice of medical experts.

"Certainly our hope is that we are at a point where enough people across the country — and hopefully around the world — have been vaccinated. But we will rely on health and medical experts on that particular piece," she said.

"Our position has not changed in our planned participation," she added.

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Psaki's remarks helped to clarify confusion arising from a briefing by US State Department spokesman Ned Price a day before.

When asked if the US was discussing with allies whether or not to consider a potential joint boycott, Price said: "It is something that we certainly wish to discuss."

Price said on Twitter later Tuesday that "we don't have any announcement regarding the Beijing Olympics".

Earlier on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the Chinese side had noted from media reports that the US State Department spokesperson had already offered clarifications.

The spokesperson said that the politicization of sports runs counter to the spirit of the Olympic Charter and harms the interests of all athletes as well as the international Olympic cause.

"The international community, including the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, will not buy it," Zhao said. "We have every confidence that with concerted efforts, we will host an extraordinary and outstanding Olympic event in Beijing in 2022."

READ MORE: Olympic vision becoming reality

Also on Wednesday, Susanne Lyons, chair of the United States Olympic Paralympic Committee (USOPC), voiced its opposition to a boycott, saying such a move would "negatively impact athletes", who should not be used as "political pawns".

"I think we will continue to see a lot of discussion on the topic of boycotts, and I want to just point out again what we have said very consistently," Lyons told reporters at a virtual Tokyo 2020 Team USA Media Summit.

"We at the USOPC oppose athlete boycotts because they've been shown to negatively impact athletes while not effectively addressing global issues," Lyons was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying. "We do not believe that Team USA's athletes should be used as political pawns."


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