The United States on Monday said it will not send a government delegation to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing owing to China’s record of human rights violations.

“The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games, given the PRC’s [People’s Republic of China] ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing.

However, American athletes will be allowed to compete at the games that will start on February 4.

“The athletes on Team USA have our full support,” Psaki said. “We will be behind them 100% as we cheer them on from home. We will not be contributing to the fanfare of the games.”

United States President Joe Biden had talked of the diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics after his virtual meeting with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in November, The New York Times reported.

During the three-hour-long call between the presidents, Biden had urged Xi to resolve human rights violations in Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong.

Xi had responded to Biden’s concerns by saying that encouraging the independence of Taiwan would be like “playing with fire”.

China sees Taiwan – a self-governed territory – as a province that is to be unified with the mainland.

Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian, at a press briefing in Beijing on Monday, said the United States’ diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics was aimed at “political manipulation”.

“US politicians keep hyping a “diplomatic boycott” without even being invited to the Games,” he said. “I want to stress that the Winter Olympic Games is not a stage for political posturing and manipulation. It is a grave travesty of the spirit of the Olympic charter, a blatant political provocation and a serious affront to the 1.4 billion Chinese people.”

Zhao also said that if the United States continued with its boycotts, China would take “resolute countermeasures”.