China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin has warned diplomatically boycotting nations they will be punished for skipping Beijing 2022 ©Getty Images

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin has warned countries diplomatically boycotting the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games will "pay the price" for their "mistaken acts".

A diplomatic boycott of the Games had been mooted for several months, with Lithuania becoming the first nation to confirm it would not send Government officials to the Games last week.

The United States announced on Monday (December 6) it would diplomatically boycott Beijing 2022 in response to "ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses".

The US action has been followed by four other nations confirming their intention not to send Government officials to the Games.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson confirmed their stance yesterday.

It was mirrored by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

China had responded to Australia’s confirmation by claiming that "nobody would care" if they came or not.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang then accused countries of "blindly following" the US in announcing a diplomatic boycott.

"The US, Australia, Britain and Canada's use of the Olympic platform for political manipulation is unpopular and self-isolating, and they will inevitably pay the price for their wrongdoing," Wang was quoted as saying.

The US and Australia will host upcoming editions of the Olympics and Paralympics, with Los Angeles due to host the Summer Games in 2028 and Brisbane the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2032.

Russia, whose President Vladimir Putin is set to attend the Beijing 2022 Opening Ceremony, has also denounced the planned diplomatic boycott.

Russian Olympic Committee head Stanislav Pozdnyakov told Russia's official state news agency TASS the boycott was "meaningless".

"The Olympic Movement distances itself from political movements, and these statements are exclusively political and are exclusively political in nature," said Pozdnyakov. 

"Therefore, in this regard, I certainly cannot support these statements, since many of us remember well what the attempts of political boycotts and the non-participation of athletes in the Olympics in 1980 and 1984 led to.

"Of course, after a while, many participants in those events emphasized that it was an absolutely counterproductive and wrong decision. 

"We hope that such political statements will not darken the holding of the Games. the state will attend the Games, and this will become an additional motivating factor for all athletes."

United States announced a diplomatic boycott of Beijing 2022 earlier this week ©Getty Images
United States announced a diplomatic boycott of Beijing 2022 earlier this week ©Getty Images

France, which will welcome the Games to its capital Paris in 2024, has confirmed it will not diplomatically boycott Beijing 2022.

The Elysee Palace said it had "taken note" of the US' decision earlier this week, adding it would "coordinate at a European level".

The French Government added it had sanctioned China regarding human rights concerns in Xinjiang in March.

France’s Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer has also confirmed Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu will travel to Beijing for the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"As for a diplomatic boycott, France will not do it," Blanquer told BFM TV.

"Sports is a world in itself, which must be protected from political interference, otherwise we can end up by killing the competition."

South Korea has yet to confirm whether it will join a boycott, with the country’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Choi Yong-sam saying the Government "has been supporting a successful hosting of the Beijing Winter Olympics."

Choi said no decision had been made over whether Government officials will attend the Games in China.

According to South Korean news agency Yonhap, South Korean officials have viewed Beijing 2022 as an opportunity to help boost the Korean peace process.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in publicly pushed at the United Nations General Assembly in September for a formal end to the Korean War, which took place between 1950 to 1953.

China is seen as North Korea’s closest ally.

French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu is expected to travel to Beijing 2022 ©Getty Images
French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu is expected to travel to Beijing 2022 ©Getty Images

Criticism over China's record on human rights includes an alleged genocide against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang and its actions in Tibet and Hong Kong have overshadowed much of the build-up to the Games.

China has been accused of crimes including using forced Uyghur labour, operating a mass surveillance programme, detaining thousands in internment camps, carrying out forced sterilisations and intentionally destroying Uyghur heritage.

Beijing has denied the allegations, claiming the camps are training centres designed to stamp out Islamist extremism and separatism.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has repeatedly claimed it needs to remain politically neutral.

The organisation said the Games are "beyond politics" with athletes from the diplomatically boycotting nations still expected to compete.

The IOC has said it will respect political decisions made by Governments.