China says it has received visa applications from US officials to attend Winter Olympics

China has said that it has received visa applications from US officials to attend the Winter Olympics, says after President Joe Biden declared boycott saying that they won’t be sending its officials to Beijing.

The Chinese foreign minister on Monday confirmed that the visa requests would be handled with “international practice, relevant regulations and the principle of reciprocity”.

“What I can confirm is that the Chinese side has received the visa application from the concerned U.S. officials,” Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for the Chinese ministry told a regular news briefing in Beijing.

The US government had recently submitted visa applications for its 18 officials, mainly from the State Department and the Pentagon, to attend the February 4 marquee event and provide security and medical support for American athletes, reported the South China Morning Post, citing sources.

It is being reported that the applications for another 40 officials may be in the works.

Also read | Tibetan students lock themselves to Olympic rings to protest Beijing Winter Olympics

In late November, the Biden administration, along with some western countries, had announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games in response to the alleged genocides and human rights violations against the minorities in the Xinjiang province.

In response, Beijing had warned that it would take “resolute countermeasures” against the Biden administration if the diplomatic boycott went ahead.

Also read | US announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics due to human rights abuses in China

However, the call for a diplomatic boycott of the Games drew mixed responses from US allies.

France had said that it would be sending diplomats to Beijing, adding that it opposes using sports competitions to highlight concerns over human rights.

Earlier French President Emanuel Macron had questioned the utility of the Winter Games, calling the boycott “a symbolic step” that will not have a useful outcome.

Norway also said that it would be sending its officials to the games, while countries like South Korean and Japan had said that their officials would skip the event.

The European Union has yet to make a final decision on how it will approach the Games.

(With inputs from agencies)

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