Senators call for American athletes to be barred from using digital yuan during Beijing Winter Olympics

A trio of U.S. senators said Monday that American participants in Beijing Winter Olympics, set for 2022, shouldn't use China's digital yuan, which will potentially play a role during that event.

Chinese officials have said that the digital yuan may be rolled out for wider use during the Winter Olympics, building on months of tests that have grown in scope across an array of cities in the country. Plans for the e-CNY continue to be made public amid those tests, including support for smart contracts. China's move to embrace a digital currency has turned heads in the halls of the U.S. Congress, with the project being cited as a source of competition between the Chinese and American governments. Indeed, the e-CNY project has spurred political calls for a digitized dollar as well.

The negative view of the digital yuan was put in stark relief in Monday's Senate letter, penned by Sens. Marsha Blackburn, Cynthia Lummis and Roger Wicker.

Addressed to the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee, the letter opens:

"We write to express our concerns with the communist Chinese government’s plans to officially launch the Digital Currency Electronic Payment, commonly referred to as the digital yuan, prior to the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022. Specifically, we urge the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) to forbid American athletes from receiving or using digital yuan during the Beijing Olympics."

"The digital yuan is the People’s Bank of China’s (PBOC) central bank digital currency. The digital yuan is entirely controlled by the PBOC, and can be tracked and traced by the central bank. The digital yuan has been in the works since 2014, but only recently has the Chinese government released key features regarding the digital currency, including the ability of the government to know the exact details of what someone purchased and where," the senators went on to write.

The group is seeking a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation briefing on the topic, and said its request is aimed at "protect[ing] the privacy of American athletes from the Chinese Communist Government."