Czech President Miloš Zeman has criticized the politicization of the Olympic Games as an increasing number of countries join a United States-led diplomatic boycott of Beijing 2022.
Several nations are refusing to send Government officials to the Chinese capital for the Games, scheduled to open in fewer than three weeks, citing concerns over China’s record on human rights.
Zeman has criticized such a policy despite a recommendation from the Czech Senate to implement a diplomatic boycott last year.
“I am fundamentally opposed to the misuse of the Olympic idea for political purposes,” said Zeman.
“We experienced it a long time ago in both Moscow  and Los Angeles . Now there is a subtler form of this abuse, when the boycott is announced only for politicians and not for athletes. Honestly, if some political buffaloes aren’t at the Olympics, nothing terrible will happen.”
A resolution was passed by the Czech Senate in June last year, urging the country’s Government to diplomatically boycott Beijing 2022 after accusing China of committing a “genocide” against Uyghurs, Tibetans and other minority groups.
The Senate argued that the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics has been held to “further suppress human rights and freedoms”, with “massive repression against minorities”.
It condemned China for “massive violations of human rights, genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic discrimination, and repression against cultural, religious and political identity”.
Zeman has long made efforts to forge closer ties between the two nations, although he refused to travel to Beijing last April for the “17+1 summit” chaired by Chinese President Xi Jinping after claiming China had not lived up to its promises.
The Czech Republic is set to send its biggest-ever team to a Winter Olympics with 113 athletes selected to represent the nation at Beijing 2022.
Denmark has become the latest country to join the diplomatic boycott of the Games in Beijing.
Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Lithuania, New Zealand and the US are also taking part in the diplomatic boycott.
China has faced accusations of using forced Uyghur labour, detaining thousands in internment camps, carrying out forced sterilisations, operating a mass surveillance programme and intentionally destroying Uyghur heritage in the Xinjiang region.
Beijing is scheduled to stage the Winter Olympics from February 4 to 20 with the Winter Paralympics due to follow from March 4 to 13.