Belarusian Sports and Tourism Minister Sergey Kovalchuk denounced Western politicians urging their countries to boycott next year’s Winter Olympics over fears over China’s human rights record.
In the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and Canada, there are increasing calls for there to be some sort of action to protest against China in response to allegations of abuse in Xinjiang and a security crackdown in Hong Kong.
“Today a politician is the person who should try to unite people by all means, establish correct communications, fight for peace, fight for friendly relations between countries,” Kovalchuk told the Chinese official news agency. Xinhua.
“Politicians who try to defend their interests through sport, dividing sporting communities, are weak, short-sighted politicians.
“Such politicians have nothing to do with this business.”
Kovalchuks’ comments could also be seen as directed against International Olympic Committee chairman Thomas Bach after he imposed sanctions on Belarus following the controversial re-election in August of the country’s leader Alexander Lukashenko.
Following Lukashenko’s worldwide condemnation, Belarus was deprived of several major events, including this year’s International Ice Hockey World Championship, which it was due to co-host with Latvia.
The threat that Belarusian athletes must compete under a neutral flag in the next two reorganized Olympic Games in Tokyo and Beijing 2022 remains a punishment for Lukashenko who allegedly targeted athletes who joined protests against him.
China has shown its support for Lukashenko by continuing to make major investments in Belarus.
China’s largest investment in Belarus is the Great Stone Industrial Park, located on the outskirts of the capital Minsk.
The project, which Chinese President Xi Jinping has called the “pearl” of the Belt and Road Initiative, is China’s largest overseas development project, covering an area of 112 square kilometers and a reception capacity of 200,000 workers.
Kovalchuk therefore, unsurprisingly, expressed confidence in Beijing hosting other successful Olympic Games when it is expected to become the first city to host both the summer and winter editions of the Games.
The coronavirus pandemic, which originated in China at the end of 2019, did not slow down preparations for the Games.
“Today, how China is fighting the pandemic can become an example for the whole world,” Kovalchuk said. Xinhua.
“I have no doubts that China will fulfill all the tasks assigned to it in planning and staging the Olympic Games.
“China has a lot of experience.
“All competitions in China are being held at the highest level, including ensuring the safety of the citizens of their country and of all the athletes who will be in Beijing right now.
“We don’t even have doubts about the advisability of sending our Belarusian athletes to the Olympic Games in Beijing.
“They will definitely go to these Olympics.”
Belarus made its Olympic debut as an independent country in Lillehammer at the 1994 Winter Olympics following the breakup of the Soviet Union and has appeared at every Games since.
They won a total of 18 Olympic Winter Games medals, including eight gold – four in biathlon and four in freestyle skiing.
At Pyeongchang 2018, they won three medals, including gold for Hanna Huskova in women’s freestyle ski jumps and the women’s biathlon relay team.
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