Czech President criticises Beijing Olympics boycott

Czech President Miloš Zeman, well-known for his good ties with Chinese and Russian leaders, criticises the diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympic Games in China. [EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK]

Czech President Miloš Zeman, well-known for his good ties with Chinese and Russian leaders, criticises the diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympic Games in China.

“I am fundamentally opposed to the misuse of the Olympic idea for political purposes. We experienced this a long time ago in both Moscow and Los Angeles (in 1980 and 1984 during the Cold War),” the Czech president said in his official statement addressed to Czech athletes.

“Frankly, if some political functionaries are not at the Olympics, nothing terrible will happen,” Zeman added.

The Beijing Olympics will start on 4 February. Several nations have refused to send official political delegations to the opening ceremony due to human rights abuses by the Chinese regime.

While the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and Lithuania have all opted for a diplomatic boycott of the Games, Europe remains divided on the issue.

As EURACTIV reported, the EU has no common position as of yet. France has expressed an ambition to coordinate the approach of the 27 EU members, but it appears unlikely to materialise.

The Czech government will not attend the opening ceremony as it was not invited by the Czech Olympic Committee, allegedly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions. On top of that, Czech athletes will not travel to China with the Czech Air Force, as was the case in previous years.

However, the opening event will be attended by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. According to the UN chief, the Olympic games “must be an instrument of peace in the world.”

(Aneta Zachová | EURACTIV.cz)

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