Lithuania to send its largest delegation to Beijing Winter Olympic Games as ‘Olympic spirit overrides politics’
Published: Jan 25, 2022 07:58 PM
Photo: Courtesy of Beijing Organizing Committee for the Winter Olympic Games

Photo: Courtesy of Beijing Organizing Committee for the Winter Olympic Games

Lithuania will send its largest delegation to the Beijing Winter Olympic Games, the Lithuanian National Olympic Committee (LTOK) announced on its official website on Monday, in a move which analysts said showed that the Olympic spirit once again overrides politics and noises from certain politicians calling for so-called boycott of Beijing Winter Games have no support. 

The team is composed of 13 athletes, including five bi-athletes, two downhill skiers, four skiers and a couple of figure skating. 

"It is not easy, because the epidemiological situation in the world is still tense, but I believe that both the athletes and the heads and participants of the Olympic mission will meet the challenges. And it remains for us, the spectators and the fans, to wholeheartedly support the winter sports athletes," said Daina Gudzinevičiūtė, the Olympic champion and President of the LTOK.

"There are less than two weeks left before the Games, so both athletes and the LTOK are intensively preparing for them. We work to meet all security requirements set by the organizers. The safety of the participants is the highest priority," said Agnė Vanagienė, Head of the Lithuanian Olympic Mission and Deputy Director of the LTOK Olympic Sports Directorate.

Relations between China and Lithuania have nosedived after Lithuania allowed the Taiwan authority to set up a representative office with the name Taiwan, a move challenging the one-China principle and encouraging secessionism and in response China announced a downgrade in diplomatic relations with Lithuania in November 2021.  

In November 2021, a group of Lithuanian parliament members called for the country to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. The National Olympic Committee says, however, it would be unfair to athletes, ruling out a boycott.

On December 20, 2021, the editorial office received a photo of a scanned official document of the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). The document stated that Lithuania informed European Union (EU) members about the boycott of the Winter Olympics and prohibited the country's athletes from participating.

Lithuanian MFA then said it was the victim of an "information attack," denying suggestions athletes from the nation would boycott the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said that he and Government Ministers will not attend the Games on December 3, 2021. 

The so-called boycott hurts the interest of global winter sports athletes who dedicated four years to the preparations, and undermines the interest of the IOC and the big international Olympic family, Zhao Lijian, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on November 26. 

The stark contrast between the boycott of certain countries' politicians and active registration of Olympic Committees and athletes has fully shown so-called boycott wins no support. China firmly believes that, guided by the Olympic spirit, more and more visionary people in the world will resolutely reject politicization of sports and staunchly support the Beijing Winter Olympics, Zhao said. 

China will work with the IOC and other countries, demonstrate the Olympic spirit of "together", and present a streamlined, safe and splendid Winter Olympics to the world. We also believe that all political manipulation against the Olympic spirit will disappear, and the Olympic flame symbolizing peace and friendship will blaze in Beijing National Stadium, or the "Bird's Nest," Zhao noted.