Russia's top spy makes sensational claim about US plans for Beijing Olympics
Authorities in Washington, along with several other Western powers, are working to derail and interfere with the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, the head of Russia’s overseas intelligence-gathering agency has claimed.
Sergey Naryshkin, director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, told journalists on Tuesday that his agency had uncovered a plot by the US State Department to coordinate a multilateral effort to tarnish the games, which will take place in February.
“I must say that we have rather extensive information about a large-scale campaign by the US and its most odious, obedient allies to aggressively and maliciously interfere in the preparation process for the Beijing Olympics,” Naryshkin alleged. “We are seeing their attempts to discredit the Olympic organizers in Beijing. The US State Department is playing the largest role here, coordinating all the anti-Chinese activities of NGOs and media.”
The spy chief did not provide details on the alleged interference, but he claimed that similar tactics had also been used to interfere with the 2014 Winter Olympics, which Russia hosted in Sochi.
He went on to criticize the decision by a number of countries – including the US – to “diplomatically boycott” the games, meaning that athletes from those nations will still compete, but government officials will not attend. The White House cited “genocide and crimes against humanity” in China’s Xinjiang region – where predominantly Muslim minorities have been detained en masse – as the reason for its boycott.
“The idea of a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing games is nonsensical and completely contradicts the spirit of the Olympics and the Olympic motto, ‘sport without politics’,” Naryshkin said.
“Anyone who values the ideals of sport, the ideals of humanism and universal values” will support the games, he went on. “And the civilized part of humanity will rapturously follow this grand celebration of peace and athletics, which will take place soon in Beijing.”
In December, Russian President Vladimir Putin similarly alleged that the West was working to discredit China as the host of the games. The US-led boycott of the 2022 Olympics in Beijing over purported human rights abuses is an attempt to make sure China “cannot raise its head” above its competitors, he argued.
The decision, he added, is “unacceptable and erroneous,” and an “attempt to restrain the development of the People’s Republic of China.” The US initially announced the decision over concerns for the safety of tennis player Peng Shuai, who disappeared from the public eye for several weeks after accusing former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault.
Beijing insists that she is safe, but the Women’s Tennis Association suspended all tournaments in the East Asian nation in response.