Lithuanian politicians have called for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games after China downgraded the country's diplomatic status in a row over Taiwan ©Getty Images

A group of Lithuanian politicians from the ruling coalition have called on the Government, the National Olympic Committee and athletes to boycott next year’s Winter Olympic Games in Beijing after China downgraded the country’s diplomatic status.

The Chinese Government expressed strong dissatisfaction with the Baltic State after Taiwan opened a de facto Embassy in Lithuania's capital Vilnius.

Lithuania expressed regret over China's move but defended its right to expand cooperation with Taiwan.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian warned Lithuania that it "will surely reap what it has sown" and asked the country to "immediately correct its wrong decision".

But 17 Members of Lithuania’s Parliament, the Seimas, have written an open letter calling on the country’s President Gitanas Nausėda and the National Olympic Committee of Lithuania to boycott Beijing 2022.

"We appeal to the President, the Government and all Lithuanian politicians to boycott the Chinese Olympic Games, not to participate in the opening and closing events, and not to send any official state delegation," the letter reads.

Lithuania sent five athletes to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang ©Getty Images
Lithuania sent five athletes to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang ©Getty Images

The 17 MPs also called on athletes who qualify for Beijing 2022 to "demonstrate a civic stance" and not to participate in the Games "where attempts will be made to turn them into puppets in a spectacle orchestrated by the authoritarian regime".

The downgrade of status is the latest in a series of diplomatic tensions between China and Lithuania.

China recalled its envoy in Vilnius in August and demanded Lithuania withdraw its Ambassador to Beijing over Taiwan's move to open the office.

Lithuania has competed in every Winter Olympic Games since Albertville 1992 following the break-up of the Soviet Union.

It has never won a medal.

For the last Winter Olympics, at Pyeongchang in 2018, Lithuania sent a team of five athletes.