The US is paying athletes to “create disturbances” during the Beijing Winter Olympics, Chinese state media reported at the weekend.
The accusations come just a week before the start of the most politicised Games in recent memory and immediately drew a denial from the US embassy in Beijing.
China Daily newspaper, citing “sources familiar with the matter”, said there was a plot by Washington to persuade athletes to “play passively” or refuse to take part in competitions and “express discontent toward China”.
“The sources stressed that Washington’s plan is a new example demonstrating attempts by some anti-China forces in the United States to politicise sports and maliciously disrupt and spoil the Beijing Winter Olympic Games,” the article said.
In return the US will offer financial compensation and work to protect the reputations of athletes who cooperate, according to the paper.
Washington is leading a diplomatic boycott of the Games by a group of Western nations over China’s human rights record, in particular its crackdown on Muslim Uyghurs in the western region of Xinjiang that the United States has labelled “genocide”.
Canadians Test Positive
China has detected 34 new Covid-19 infections among Olympic Games-related personnel, the organising committee of the Beijing 2022 Winter Games said on Sunday.
Of those, 13 were athletes or team officials who tested positive after arriving at the airport on Saturday.
Of the total infections, 23 were among new airport arrivals, while 11 were people already in the “closed loop” bubble that separates event personnel from the public, said a notice on the Games’ official website.
The data was issued as Canada said five members of its 246-strong delegation in Beijing have tested positive for Covid-19. The winter sports powerhouse has not said whether those concerned are athletes, support staff or officials.
- AFP, with Reuters and additional editing by George Russell