Putin supports China over Winter Olympics diplomatic boycott

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Putin supports China over Winter Olympics diplomatic boycott

Russia President Vladimir Putin lashed out Tuesday against the US-led diplomatic boycott of next month’s Winter Olympics in Beijing, calling it “demonstrative” before lamenting what he called the “politicization of sport.”

“I consider the main goal of these competitions to attract as many citizens as possible to sport and the strengthening of friendship between peoples,” Putin said in a Tuesday video address to Russia’s athletes. “These approaches are shared by the organizers of the upcoming Games, our Chinese friends.”

“We support the traditional Olympic values, above all, equality and fairness,” added the Russian leader, who called on his nation’s athletes to “rigorously observe” all medical instructions and requirements at the Games, which are set to kick off Feb. 4.

As at last year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Russia’s athletes will compete under the moniker “ROC” (Russian Olympic Committee) as part of the penalty for a wide-ranging state-sponsored doping scheme at previous Games.

The US is one of 10 countries taking part in a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics, along with the UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, Denmark, Belgium, Estonia, Kosovo, and Lithuania.

Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We support the traditional Olympic values, above all, equality and fairness,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
Sputnik/Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

While athletes from those nations will still be permitted to compete, their governments will not send official diplomatic delegations to Beijing to protest China’s human rights abuses.

China slammed the boycott last month, calling it a “farce” after it received at least 18 US applications for diplomatic visas leading up to the Games. 

“We intend to provide consular and diplomatic security services to ensure our athletes, coaches, trainers, and staff are secure and have access to the American citizen services that we provide to all US citizens overseas,” The State Department and White House National Security Council responded in a joint statement. 

Olympic Rings.
The US, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, Denmark, Belgium, Estonia, Kosovo, and Lithuania will not send official diplomatic delegations to Beijing.
Getty Images

“Any visa application would be for those consular and diplomatic security personnel. It is standard to have those personnel on the ground, and those personnel do not constitute official or diplomatic representation at the Games.”

“Our position we announced earlier this month remains our position and will not be changing: We will not have any diplomatic or official representation given the PRC’s [People’s Republic of China’s] ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, and other human rights abuses. Any suggestion otherwise is false.”

Russia’s support for China comes amid growing tension between Moscow and the US over Ukraine. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The 10 nations are boycotting the Beijing Olympics in protest of China’s human rights abuses.
Li Xueren/Xinhua via AP
Workers wearing personal protective equipment walk past a sign for the Olympics.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called on his nation’s athletes to “rigorously observe” all medical instructions and requirements at the Winter Games.
Tyrone Siu/REUTERS

Many in the West fear Russia will invade its neighbor after the US and NATO refused to rule out Ukraine ever joining the Atlantic alliance. 

Roughly 100,000 Russian forces have amassed along the Ukrainian border and Russian military weapons, equipment and troops have been spotted moving into Belarus – stoking fears of an invasion from the north. 

While Ukraine has insisted there is “no reason to panic,” the US ordered the evacuation of American diplomats’ families over the weekend, a move Ukrainian officials have called “premature.”

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