China confirmed on Monday that it had received visa applications for 18 US officials to attend the Winter Olympics in Beijing despite the Biden administration’s announcement that it was boycotting the games.
The visa applications were first reported last week by The South China Morning Post. The report said the US applied for three-month visas for 18 officials to provide “security support operations” at the Olympics.
A source told the Post that most of the personnel are mid-to lower-ranking State Department officials. The Americans have also indicated that they will seek visas for another 40 officials.
In the eyes of Beijing, sending an 18-person delegation defeats the purpose of the diplomatic boycott. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian slammed the Biden administration’s boycott as a “farce.”
“Earlier, the US side, driven by political manipulation, directed and staged a farce of not sending a diplomatic or official delegation to the Beijing Winter Olympics even though no invitation had been extended,” Zhao said.
Zhao said China would handle the visa applications “in accordance with international customary practice, relevant regulations, and the principle of reciprocity.” He urged the US to “refrain from politicizing sports and stop erroneous words and acts that disrupt or undermine the Beijing Winter Olympics.”