China fuming over Biden’s talk of U.S. Olympic boycott, sends invite to Putin

China fuming over Biden’s talk of U.S. Olympic boycott, sends invite to Putin

China‘s Foreign Ministry Friday sharply criticized President Biden‘s comments that he is weighing a modified boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, accusing Washington of politicizing the global sports event.

Mr. Biden, meeting with Canadian and Mexican leaders Thursday at a White House summit, confirmed for the first time he is considering a diplomatic boycott of the Games, allowing U.S. athletes to compete but preventing American officials from attending.

Asked about limiting the U.S. presence at the Games, Mr. Biden acknowledged tersely Thursday evening that it is “something we’re considering.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, in a Friday briefing with reporters in Beijing, said Washington was using “groundless” charges of human rights abuses in Xinjiang and elsewhere to justify the modified boycott.

“Politicizing sports is violating the spirit of the Olympics,” Mr. Zhao said, adding that Beijing‘s policies toward the ethnic minority Uighurs in China‘s Xinjiang region are “purely China‘s internal affairs.”

The state-controlled Global Times, citing Chinese political analysts, said the potential boycott, coupled with Mr. Biden‘s planned summit of the world’s democratic countries next month, was a sign that the U.S. president was bowing to pressure from anti-China hardliners because of his weakened political standing at home.

Separately, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed in Moscow Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had received an official invitation from the Chinese government to attend the Games.

With Moscow and Beijing growing closer in the face of rising tensions with the U.S., Mr. Putin had been widely expected to travel to Beijing for the opening ceremony of the Games set for February 4.