Politics entered the Olympics on Thursday when a Beijing Winter Games official spoke about Taiwan and Xinjiang saying there is only “one China”, the host country’s first such statement since the competition began.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesman Mark Adams was asked at a daily news conference about Taiwan’s presence at the closing ceremony on Sunday. After his remarks, Beijing Games spokesman Yan Jiarong said: “There is only one China.”
His statement reiterates China’s stand on democratically-ruled Taiwan, which it describes as its “sacred” territory.
Later, Yan again insisted on making a statement about Xinjiang when a reporter directed the IOC a question about materials used in clothing from the Xinjiang region of China.
“The so-called forced labor in Xinjiang is a lie invented by some groups,” Yan said.
Human rights groups have accused some textile companies of using materials from Xinjiang and ignoring the abuse of the Uighur population in the region. China denies all allegations of abuse and has repeatedly denied allegations that it runs a network of forced labor camps in Xinjiang.
Amid diplomatic boycotts of the Winter Olympics by the US, UK and other Western countries over China’s human rights record, the IOC has called for politics to be kept out of the Beijing Games.