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27 Dec, 2021 17:07

What boycott? China says US officials have applied for Winter Olympics visas

China has received visa applications for US officials for the Beijing Olympics, even though Washington declared a diplomatic boycott of the sporting showpiece
What boycott? China says US officials have applied for Winter Olympics visas

Beijing has received visa applications from more than a dozen US officials for the Winter Olympics, according to a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Three weeks ago, Washington announced a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming spectacle which kicks off in Bejing on February 4. 

This was supported by Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Japan.

READ MORE: What you need to know about the Beijing Winter Olympics boycotts

And while it was stressed that American athletes would still take part in the competition, it would appear that not all US officials will be staying home.

"We have received an application from the American side for visas for US officials," Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a briefing on Monday.

"In response to this application regarding the United States government delegation, we will act in accordance with international rules [and on the basis of] reciprocity."

Reminding Washington of its previous action in announcing the boycott, Lijian added: "We once again insist that the United States act in accordance with the Olympic spirit and stop politicizing, stop making statements to undermine the Winter Games in Beijing."

The Global Times reported that the US government has submitted visa applications for 18 officials to provide security support for the Winter Olympics, with 40 more officials expected to submit forms later.

According to the South China Morning Post, 15 of the 18 mid-to-lower ranking officials work for the State Department, and another is employed by the Pentagon. 

The Global Times said China had never intended to invite US and Western politicians who "hyped" the boycott, which it said experts had described as "nothing but self-deception."

Li Haidong, a professor for the Institute of International Relations at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times that US President Joe Biden's administration "took the lead in fooling hardcore US followers in not sending government officials to Beijing," but has now changed course in a "slap in the face" that will catch America's foreign allies "off guard."

Washington is yet to respond to Lijian's reports of visa applications.

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