Beijing 2022 official warns athletes against violations of ‘Olympic spirit and Chinese laws’ at the upcoming Winter Olympics
- Human Rights Watch highlighted the dangers that could await competitors
- They are concerned that athletes may be punished or speaking out about China
- Official Yang Shu has made comments doing little to alleviate those concerns
Athletes at the Winter Olympics have been told by a Beijing 2022 official that they face punishment if their behaviour or words falls outside ‘the Olympic spirit and Chinese laws’.
The troubling warning comes after Human Rights Watch highlighted the dangers that could await competitors who speak out about China at the Games.
In comments that will do little to alleviate those concerns, Yang Shu, deputy director general of Beijing 2022’s International Relations Department, said: ‘Any expression that is in line with the Olympic spirit I’m sure will be protected and anything and any behaviour or speeches that are against the Olympic spirit, especially against Chinese laws and regulations, are also subject to certain punishment.’
Athletes at the Winter Olympics have been given a warning by Beijing 2022 official
The IOC softened its ban on protests ahead of last summer’s Olympics in Tokyo, meaning athletes could express their views, albeit not on medal podiums. It remains to be seen how the rules might be tested in China, which has drawn international criticism for its human rights record.
The British Olympic Association said last week they would not curb their athletes’ freedom of expression, but the prominent athlete-led group Global Athlete have advised against anyone speaking out.
Global Athlete director general Rob Koehler said on Tuesday: ‘We know the human rights record and the freedom of expression allowance in China so there’s really not much protection that we believe is going to be afforded to athletes.’
Meanwhile, Pyeongchang 2018 bronze medallist Laura Deas was confirmed in the team for the skeleton on Wednesday.
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