US officials won't attend Beijing Winter Olympics

FILE PHOTO: Federal appeals court judges L-R: Raymond Kethledge, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, and Thomas Hardiman, being considered by President Donald Trump for the U.S. Supreme Court, are seen in this combination photo from files. REUTERS/File Photos

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The Biden administration won’t send U.S. officials to attend the coming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, staging a diplomatic boycott that drew immediate criticism from China. 

An announcement of the U.S. boycott is planned for this week, an administration official said Monday. 

The decision to withhold official U.S. representation at the Olympics was made several weeks ago, though administration officials waited to make the announcement to allow some time to pass after a phone call last month between President Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to stabilize tense relations, advisers to the administration said. 

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People walk by statues depicting winter sports ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics on Dec. 2, 2021, in Beijing, China. (Yi Haifei/China News Service via Getty Images / Getty Images)

While such a boycott would keep U.S. officials from attending the games, the move wouldn’t affect participation by athletes. 

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The U.S. decision, however, is likely to influence others, particularly allied governments, into following suit, and reports that the U.S. announcement was imminent brought condemnation from Beijing, which accused Washington of grandstanding. 

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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian blasted the decision to not have U.S. officials attend the Beijing Winter Olympics. (Roman BalandinTASS via Getty Images / Getty Images)

"This severely tarnishes the spirit of the Olympic Charter," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Monday. "It’s a naked political provocation, and more, a serious offense to 1.4 billion Chinese people." 

Mr. Biden said last month that the U.S. government was considering a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics. 

This article first appeared in the Wall Street Journal 
 

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