On Thursday, China warned Western nations that a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics would cost them “a lot of money,” whereas a French official vowed his country would not join the US-backed attempt. The United States announced its decision not to send a diplomatic team earlier this week, citing rampant Chinese human rights violations and what it calls “genocide” against the Muslim Uyghur minority in Xinjiang. In a rush of diplomatic goodwill on Wednesday, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada followed suit.
The boycott did not prevent competitors from competing in the February Games, but it incensed Beijing, which threatened vengeance on Thursday.
“The exploitation of the Olympic platform for political manipulation by the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada is unpopular and self-isolating, and they will surely pay the price for their crime,” foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters.
Soon after, Beijing had good news from Paris, with Education and Sports Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer declaring that France will not participate in the boycott. During an interview with RMC radio and BFM television, Blanquer stated, “We need to be cautious about the link between sports and politics,” adding that France would continue to protest human rights problems in China. “Sports are a world unto itself, and they must be protected from political meddling. If not, things might spiral out of control, placing all of the competitions under danger “he added .
Blanquer will not travel to Beijing, but the French government will be represented by Roxana Maracineanu, a junior sports minister.