Media reports say the White House stated that no official delegation would be sent to the Games because of concerns about China's human rights record.  But it said US athletes could attend and would have the government's full support.  China has previously said it will take "resolute countermeasures" in the event of a boycott.

The BBC reports that US President Joe Biden said last month that he was weighing up a diplomatic boycott of the event.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki reportedly confirmed the boycott on Monday, saying that the administration would not contribute to the "fanfare" of the Olympics.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki ; photo / AP.

"US diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the PRC's [People's Republic of China] egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang," she said. "We simply can't do that."

Ms. Psaki added that the US government did not feel "it was the right step to penalize athletes who had been training for this moment", but that not sending an official US delegation to the 2022 Games "could send a clear message".

US athletes will attend the 2022 Winter Olympics in China and have the government's full support, according to SkySports.

Responding to the US announcement, China's Embassy in Washington reportedly said the boycott was a "grave distortion of the spirit of the Olympic Charter."

"No-one would care about whether these people come or not, and it has no impact whatsoever on the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics to be successfully held," said spokesman Liu Pengyu, quoted by Reuters.

Mr. Liu added that no invitation had been extended to US politicians, "so this 'diplomatic boycott simply comes out of nowhere".

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian had reportedly said ahead of the announcement that China would take "resolute countermeasures, if the US is bent on having its own way."