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Lithuania snubs games: Minister will not attend Beijing Winter Olympics

News comes as Beijing suspends consular services in Baltic country

Jurgita Šiugždinienė stands at a podium. (Facebook, Jurgita Šiugždinienė photo)

Jurgita Šiugždinienė stands at a podium. (Facebook, Jurgita Šiugždinienė photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Lithuania’s Minister for Education, Science and Sport, Jurgita Siugzdiniene, said she will not attend the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February.

Siugzdiniene added that, as far as she knows, other Lithuanian officials also have no plans to attend the event, according to a report by Formosa News Network. The news comes several days after the chairperson of Lithuania’s council of foreign affairs, Zygimantas Pavilionis, and 17 other members of Parliament issued a joint statement on a boycott for the event.

Addressed to the country’s president, its government officials, and the Lithuanian Olympic Committee, and its athletes, the statement called for Lithuania to stage a united boycott of the games by refusing to send any official delegation. The congresspeople said authoritarian countries should not hold international sporting events.

Yet reaching a shared position on the issue may require more time since the call for a boycott has stimulated internal debate in the democratic country. The Lithuanian Olympic Committee, for its part, issued a statement on Tuesday (Nov. 23) stating that it does not support the proposed boycott.

It argued it is unfair to ask athletes to give up this opportunity to compete for political reasons. The statement also emphasized the Olympics belong to the whole world, not just the host country.

Bilateral relations between Lithuania and China continue to spiral downwards after the country allowed Taiwan to set up a representative office under its own name in the capital Vilnius earlier this month. On Thursday (Nov. 25), China announced it has suspended consular services in the country.