Australia, the UK and the United States will pay the price for their “mistaken acts”, after deciding not to send government delegations to February’s Winter Olympics in Beijing, China’s foreign ministry has said.

It comes after the countries announced diplomatic boycotts over human rights concerns.

However, France on Thursday said it will not be boycotting the Games, with French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer telling BFM TV: “As for a diplomatic boycott… France will not do it… Sports is a world in itself, which must be protected from political interference, otherwise… we can end up by killing the competition.”

He said violations of human rights in China must be condemned, but added that Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu would attend the event.

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UK to ‘boycott’ Winter Olympics

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Thursday: “The United States, Britain and Australia have used the Olympics platform for political manipulation.

“They will have to pay the price for their mistaken acts.”

When pressed on the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Boris Johnson said no diplomats were set to go to the Games – which run from 4-20 February 2022 – and there would be an “effective” boycott.

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However, he added: “I do not think that sporting boycotts are sensible and that remains the policy of the government.”

The countries that have announced boycotts are still allowing their athletes to compete.

China’s response follows Australia and Britain joining the US after it decided to hold back its diplomats and officials from the Olympics due to “egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang”.

On Wednesday, the US House of Representatives passed legislation to ban imports from the region over concerns about forced labour.

China has repeatedly denied human rights abuses against the Uyghur population but there have been claims of torture and deaths inside the notorious re-education centres.

Confirming Australia’s diplomatic boycott just days after the US announcement, Prime Minister Scott Morrison raised strained diplomatic relations with Beijing.

He said Australia had struggled to reopen diplomatic channels with China to discuss alleged human rights abuses in the far western region of Xinjiang and Beijing’s moves against Australian imports.

Mr Wenbin accused Australia was “blindly following” the US, adding: “Whether they come or not, nobody cares.”