• China could collect athletes' DNA in the guise of COVID-19 testing: Tom Cotton
  • The Republican had backed the coronavirus Wuhan lab leak theory
  • Cotton: CCP considers DNA collection a “vital intelligence-gathering objective
  • Says U.S. visitors to China could be detained, used as political bargaining chips 

China could potentially harvest the DNA of U.S. athletes taking part in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing in the guise of testing for illegal drugs or COVID-19, a Republican senator has warned. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., also asked the Biden administration to ensure protections for the athletes, saying they presented an "irresistible target" for the Chinese Communist Party which has reportedly used DNA data to research the creation of "super soldiers."

Cotton spoke before the Senate on Tuesday and urged the U.S. to boycott the Beijing Olympics unless "the safety, security and privacy of our athletes" is assured, The Hill reported.

Sen. Cotton is better known as one of the early backers of the Wuhan lab leak theory which said the SARS-Cov-2 virus that causes COVID-19 had escaped from a Chinese lab, and the incident was hushed up by Chinese authorities. The theory was widely panned by mainstream media initially and Cotton was accused of spreading "fringe" and "conspiracy" theories. But in May, President Joe Biden ordered a 90-day review of intelligence about the likely source of the virus, after a Wall Street Journal report that workers at the Wuhan lab had to be hospitalized with a mysterious illness weeks before the first recorded cases of the coronavirus in November 2020.

U.S. intel had said there was still evidence on the theory that had to be examined. It then gained new backing among the scientific community and media outlets including the Washington Post had to correct their reports.

Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas. He is a Ranking Member for the Senate Subcommittee on Criminal Justice and Counterterrorism, the Intelligence Committee, and the Armed Services Committee, where he serves as the Ranking Member of the Air Land Power Subcommittee. Sen. Tom Cotton

In a letter to President Biden on Monday, Sen. Cotton asked about the government’s preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games and emphasized that the government must ensure protection of American athletes participating in the games.

Cotton said the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) considers DNA collection as a “vital intelligence-gathering objective” and noted that “the CCP has reportedly conducted tests to develop biologically-enhanced soldiers with the intent of using DNA data as a way to catapult Chinese biotechnology companies to global market dominance.

“In 2022, thousand 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 said in the letter.

The Arkansas Republican also raised the alarm over the possible detention of Americans and other Western visitors to China who may be used as political bargaining chips.

In the letter, Cotton pointed out that the State Department has already issued a Level 3 travel advisory on China, which urges Americans to reconsider travel to the country due to the "Chinese government’s use of arbitrary detention and exit bans." However, this will somewhat be negated if the U.S. participates in the Olympics.

Cotton warned that the CCP operates “the world's most invasive domestic surveillance system" and that "Chinese authorities closely monitor internet traffic within the country and block or censor online information that the Party views as adverse to its grip on power."

“The CCP also continuously tracks persons in Chinese and cities through a network of facial-recognition cameras and other advanced sensors. Further, members of the American delegation should expect their rooms in the Chinese Olympic village to be bugged with audio or visual surveillance equipment and all their onshore electronic devices to be hacked by Chinese authorities,” the letter adds.

Cotton’s letter was concluded by a series of questions on U.S. government support to the Olympic Games delegation and whether the Chinese government is fully cooperating "to mitigate security risks and provide logistical support" prior to the arrival of the delegation in Beijing.

Cotton and other lawmakers had voiced their objection to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games in a resolution in February urging the nation to boycott the games, citing human rights concerns including the alleged genocide of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Fox News reported.

Last month House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics due to concerns over human rights abuses.