China’s Xi tells IOC the Winter Olympics will proceed as planned

President Xi Jinping said China will continue to cooperate with International Olympic Committee to support the Tokyo Olympics. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - Chinese President Xi Jinping has told the International Olympic Committee (IOC) he's certain the 2022 Winter Olympics will be held as planned, a show of confidence that comes as the rest of the world struggles to contain Covid-19.

China is pushing ahead with preparations for the games despite the pandemic, Mr Xi told IOC President Thomas Bach, state broadcaster CCTV reported Friday (May 7) night.

The Asian nation has completed construction on all the necessary sports venues, Mr Xi said, and it willing to work with the IOC on vaccine measures to protect athletes from the virus.

China's assuredness regarding the Olympics stands in contrast to Japan, where opinion polls show most voters want the summer games set to start July 23 postponed or cancelled because the nation is dealing with a rise in virus cases.

China has sought to project confidence that the Winter Games scheduled for February next year will proceed as scheduled, with
Mr Xi telling a group of diplomats last month that his country would host "a simple, safe and splendid Olympics."

Mr Bach said he opposed politicising the Olympics and fully supported China holding the Winter Games as planned, according to CCTV.

Those comments come as China has been criticised by Western nations for its activities in Xinjiang, where the US says genocide is occurring.

Earlier this year foreign diplomats in Beijing were discussing the merits of a boycott of the Winter games over the controversy.

Most of the envoys, who declined to be named, were skeptical a full boycott would happen but they raised the possibility that top dignitaries would avoid Beijing while athletes compete and sponsors take part.

China has detained about 1 million ethnic minorities including Muslim Uyghurs in the western region of Xinjiang, according to a United Nations assessment.

Beijing says it is fighting terrorism while building infrastructure and providing economic opportunities.

Separately, Mr Xi told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a phone call Thursday that major countries should set an example by providing more public goods to fight the pandemic, according to a statement from China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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