HONG KONG, (Reuters) – China is willing to work with IOC to combat the politicisation in sports, Premier Li Qiang stated, following Beijing's anger over protests against human rights violations and the playing at certain events of a song associated with Hong Kong protests.
The comments were made by Premier Li at a weekend meeting in Beijing with IOC chief Thomas Bach, according to Xinhua.
Li's remarks come after Canada, the United States, and Britain boycotted the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing last winter over concerns regarding China's rights. China called the boycotts at the time "political posture" and a smear.
Xinhua reports that Li said China was willing to work with the IOC in order to combat the politicisation and contribute more to the Olympic Movement.
Bach stated that China has an important role to play in maintaining peace around the world and promoting development for both parties. The IOC is eager to enhance cooperation with China and promote the growth of the Olympic Movement.
Beijing has said that it is opposed to any attempt at politising sporting events.
In February, during a match between Hong Kong, Iran, and the World Ice Hockey Championships in Bosnia, an anthem from Hong Kong, which was linked to the anti-government protests of 2019, was played in place of China's March of the Volunteers. This led to a condemnation by the government and an investigation.
The protest song was also played during the match between Hong Kong vs. South Korea in Incheon, last November.
Hong Kong's Government has condemned the incorrect song being played and issued guidelines to all sports teams to ensure that the correct anthem is played.