While athletes around the world are eagerly awaiting the opening of the Beijing Olympic Winter Games in 66 days, a few western politicians have made noises of a "diplomatic boycott." This is selfish and ultimately harmful act.
Ever since the Olympic Movement was revived in the 1890s, it has become a tool to promote the all-round development of human physiology, psychology and social morality, to encourage mutual understanding among people of all countries and regions, to popularize Olympism and to maintain world peace. And it reaches its peak with the coming together of the world's athletes at the great sports festival, the Olympic Games.
But in the 125-year history of the modern Games, the quadrennial international competitions have been marred by boycotts.
The United States had previously undertaken an entire boycott of the Moscow Olympic Games in 1980 - with the 1984 Games in Los Angeles seeing a total of 14 countries skipping the event.
With nearly four decades having passed, there seems a consensus around the world that boycotting the Olympic Games is pointless.
Some politically-motivated politicians, however, came up with the idea of a "diplomatic boycott" of the 2022 Winter Games - which means a country will not send government officials to the Games.
Based the IOC regulations and Olympic practice, the heads of state and government are usually invited by the National Olympic Committee (NOC) to attend the Olympic Games and relevant activities as registered guests. The host country will then respect the decisions of the NOCs and facilitate the participation of foreign leaders.
Dick Pound, the longest-serving IOC member, has dismissed the boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics as "completely ineffective."
"It's counterintuitive that the Olympic athletes should be the ones who pay the price," the Canadian told CBC News.
"The Olympic idea and philosophy is that you contribute to a better life for people in a peaceful setting," Pound added. "We don't want to give up our philosophical approach to what sport can do for the world."
IOC president Thomas Bach, who won a gold medal in fencing at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, was one of those athletes who suffered from boycotts of the Olympic Games as Western Germany decided not to participate in the Moscow Games in 1980.
As revenge, the Soviet Union led another boycott of the Los Angeles Games four years later, the cost of which was two generations of athletes losing out on their Olympic dreams, Bach recalled.
"Anybody who is thinking about a boycott should learn this lesson from history," Bach said. "A sports boycott serves nothing. It's only hurting the athletes, and it's hurting the population of the country because they are losing the joy to share, the pride, the success with their Olympic team."
"So what is a boycott for? It's against all the Olympic spirit. It's against all the values we have in sport and what we are standing for in sport," he added.
Yang Yang, China's first ever Winter Olympic champion and chairman of the athletes' committee of Beijing 2022, is well aware of the importance of Winter Olympics to all athletes.
"Boycotting the Olympics will only harm the athletes, especially the athletes from the countries which might decide to boycott," said Yang. "The athletes have worked so hard for years to realize their Olympic dreams."
"Meanwhile, such acts will also hurt those who love and believe in sports, including children, as they need role models. Especially during the epidemic, the athletes' spirit will inspire more people to face challenges and work hard to solve difficulties."
In the face of a complex international situation, the Olympic Games has become not only a stage for athletes to pursue their dreams, but a platform for peace, friendship, communication and exchanges.
Inspired and encouraged by the Olympic spirit, people around the world will unite as one and enjoy a splendid Olympic Winter Games in Beijing next year. A boycott will only serve to mar the unity that makes the Games beautiful.