Biden: US may not send high dignitaries to Beijing Olympics

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on Thursday said the United States was considering a diplomatic boycott of next year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing over China’s human rights abuses, a move that would prevent American dignitaries, but not athletes, from the games.

Speaking to reporters as he greeted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Oval Office, Biden said supporting a boycott of the Olympics in February is “something we are considering.”

Visitors take photos of a statue of figure skaters with the Olympic rings in a park near the Beijing Organizing Committee headquarters as President Joe Biden says the United States is considering a diplomatic boycott of the Games.

The United States and other nations traditionally send high-level delegations to every Olympics. First Lady Jill Biden led the US contingent to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo this year and Second Mister Doug Emhoff led a delegation to the Paralympics.

International interest groups and some members of Congress have called for a symbolic US boycott of the Beijing games over China’s treatment of Uyghurs and its crackdown on freedoms in Hong Kong. The participation of American athletes would not be affected by the boycott.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said there was no timeline for a president’s decision on whether to proceed with a possible boycott.

The White House said the Olympics did not take place on Monday when Biden virtually met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Strong demand for artificial snow at the Beijing Winter Olympics will have minimal effect on local water supplies, organizers said Thursday.

The water needed for snowmaking in the Yanqing area, where slide skiing and downhill skiing will take place in February, will only account for 1.6% of the water used in the area, the spokesperson said. Zhao Weidong spoke during a press briefing.

“Artificial snow will not affect local water consumption,” Zhao said.

Water for the Yanqing area will come from the Foyukou and Baihebao reservoirs. Beijing is notoriously cold and dry during the winter, and environmentalists have expressed concerns about the effects of snowmaking on surrounding areas.

Other outdoor events will take place in neighboring Hebei Province where natural snow is generally more abundant.

Zhao also said a third athlete was quarantined for testing positive for Covid-19 after two athletes were quarantined during ongoing luge test events. The three of them were transferred to a quarantine hotel “as needed,” Zhao said.

None have exhibited symptoms and are allowed to continue training while living and dining separately. Authorities did not release their names or nationality, but said the two who had tested positive previously arrived on a charter flight when the most recent case was in close contact with them.

About 1,500 competitors and staff have entered the country since the start of the test events in early October.

China has one of the strictest Covid prevention policies in the world. Entry into the country is severely restricted and virtually anyone who does must self-quarantine in a hotel for at least two weeks, even if they are vaccinated and test negative.

The quarantine requirement is lifted for test events and the Games, but participants must live and compete isolated from the rest of the population in China.

The Games take place February 4-20 amid uncertainty over the direction of the pandemic and protests over China’s human rights record.

Olympic gold medalist Oxana Slivenko of Russia, meanwhile, was one of 13 European weightlifters facing new doping charges ahead of the London 2012 Games, the International Testing Agency said Thursday. (ITA).

The cases date from the European Championships in April 2012, four months before the Olympics, and follow the ITA retesting old samples using modern methods. Of the 13 weightlifters from eight countries, 11 won medals at the event in Turkey. They are all provisionally suspended until their case is resolved.

Eight of the weightlifters have already served bans for breaking anti-doping rules at some point in their careers. Most are retired.

Among them, Slivenko, a gold medalist at the 2008 Olympics and won gold with ease at the 2012 European Championships. She retired shortly before the London Olympics due to an injury. .

Slivenko has already served a doping-related ban from 2018 to 2020. The International Weightlifting Federation said in March that she was also charged in another doping case linked to data from the closed Moscow drug control laboratory.

Any weightlifter who doped at the 2012 European Championships could also be disqualified from the Olympics that year, but that would not affect medals. The only two Olympic medalists in London among the 13 weightlifters indicted by the ITA, Moldovan Cristina Iovu and Romanian Razvan Martin, have already had these medals withdrawn for other doping offenses.

The ITA has tried to clear up weightlifting’s murky history of steroid use after an investigation last year revealed that former IWF president Tamas Ajan chaired a system in which doping cases had been covered up and more than $ 10 million were missing. PA

Image courtesy of AP