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Olympics-China media says U.S. pays athletes to ‘disrupt’ Beijing Games

Randy Mancini 7 Jan 29
Ralph Lauren unveils uniforms for Beijing Winter Olympics closing ceremony
U.S. Winter Olympic Ralph Lauren Polo attire items are pictured in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., October 28, 2021. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

January 29, 2022

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese state media said the United States plans to “maliciously disrupt and spoil” the Beijing Winter Olympics by enticing athletes to make half-hearted efforts in competition and to criticise Beijing.

A week before the Games begin amid tensions between the two superpowers, China Daily, an English-language newspaper run by the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s Publicity Department, on Friday evening cited unnamed sources as saying U.S. “anti-China forces” sought to disrupt the Games and politicise sports.

A U.S. embassy spokesman told Reuters by email on Saturday, “We were not and are not coordinating a global campaign regarding participation at the Olympics.”

“U.S. athletes are entitled to express themselves freely in line with the spirit and charter of the Olympics, which includes advancing human rights,” the spokesman said. China “will continue to try and mislead the public about our decision to deflect attention from their egregious human rights record.”

China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The plan is to “incite athletes from various countries to express their discontent toward China, play passively in competition and even refuse to take part”, the report said.

In return, it said, Washington would provide a large amount of compensation and “mobilise global resources” to help protect the reputation of athletes of who choose to play passively, the report said.

It did not provide further evidence of its claims.

(Reporting by Yew Lun Tian; Editing by William Mallard)