Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) warned President Joe Biden on June 14 that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will likely attempt to collect DNA samples from American athletes competing in the 2020 Beijing Olympics.
In a letter (pdf) to the president, Cotton wrote that the CCP considers “DNA collection a vital intelligence-gathering objective” and implored the administration to take precautionary measures to protect the athletes.
“In 2022, thousands of world-class athletes will gather to compete in China. Their DNA will present an irresistible target for the CCP. Thus, we should expect that the Chinese government will attempt to collect genetic samples of Olympians at the Games, perhaps disguised as testing for illegal drugs or COVID-19,” Cotton wrote.
In a speech on the Senate floor on June 15, the Arkansas senator called for a boycott of the Olympic games in the event that the “safety, security, and privacy of our athletes cannot be guaranteed.”
Cotton noted that the CCP has reportedly conducted tests in order to develop biologically enhanced soldiers and intends to use bulk DNA data to fuel the rise of Chinese biotechnology companies.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cotton used the letter to flag a number of threats American athletes will face if they travel to China, including intrusive surveillance and arbitrary detentions. Members of the U.S. Olympic delegation who have spoken out against the CCP’s human rights abuses are an an increased risk of arbitrary detention, the senator warned.
He called on the president to disclose what efforts are being made to prepare for the threats and whether the CCP is cooperating with the preparations. The senator also inquired whether China is complying with media requests to cover the events.
“Given these risks to the American delegation, the U .S. government and U.S. Olympic Committee must thoroughly prepare to ensure the safety and security of all Americans traveling to the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games,” Cotton wrote.
Cotton is a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The chairman and ranking member of the committee issued a rare bipartisan joint statement in December last year warning about the national security threat emanating from China.
“We agree with DNI Ratcliffe that China poses the greatest national security threat to the United States. Our intelligence is clear: the Chinese Communist Party will stop at nothing to exert its global dominance,” Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said, referring to President Donald Trump’s then-Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe.
“Beijing’s infiltration of U.S. society has been deliberate and insidious as they use every instrument of influence available to accelerate their rise at America’s expense.”