The U.S. has announced that it won't be sending a diplomatic delegation to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, due to concerns over the host nation's human rights record.
The U.S. cites "ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses" as reasons behind the boycott.
During a daily press briefing on Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki explained that the U.S. cannot "proceed with business as usual" through diplomatic representation given its "fundamental commitment" to promoting human rights.
However, she also added that American athletes will be free to attend and the country will be 100 percent behind them.
"I don't think that we felt it was the right step to penalize athletes who have been training, preparing for this moment, and we felt that we could send a clear message by by not sending an official U.S. delegation."
To this, China on Tuesday accused the U.S. of violating the Olympic spirit and vowed to take countermeasures.
"I want to stress that the Winter Olympic Games is not a stage for political posturing and manipulation. U.S. politicians keep hyping a "diplomatic boycott" without even being invited to the Games. This wishful thinking and pure grandstanding is aimed at political manipulation. It is a grave travesty for the spirit of the Olympic Charter, a blatant political provocation and a serious affront to the 1.4 billion Chinese people."
Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee had said that the presence of government officials and diplomats is a purely political decision for each government which the IOC, in its political neutrality, fully respects.
This comes just a few weeks after a virtual summit between the leaders of the two superpowers which took place to ease tensions.
All eyes are now on what kind of retaliation Beijing may hit Washington with, especially with the U.S. slated to host the Los Angeles Summer Olympics in 2028.
Kim Cheong-ah, Arirang News.