Beware of what you say, warned athletes in Beijing

Athlete freedom as one of the hot topics before the Beijing Games. Human rights organizations have repeatedly warned that conversations about events in Tibet, Hong Kong or Xinjiang Province could have consequences for athletes.

Former speed skater and chairwoman of the International Olympic Committee’s Commission of Athletes (link between the Olympians and the International Olympic Committee) Yang Yang, who won two gold medals at the 2002 Winter Games, insists athletes will be able to talk what they want in the mix zones.

However, her words at Tuesday’s press conference were, according to the daily The Guardian quite ambiguous. The daily reports that the journalists present felt that Yang Yang was warning the athletes against criticism of human rights violations by China.

“There is Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter,” said Yang, who is also the vice president of the World Anti-Doping Agency. “It is very clear here about freedom of speech for athletes, about what speeches they can make, at what time, on what occasions. Athletes are a role model for the world and a lot of attention is paid to them. They have their opinions, and if they want to share them, it’s important, “said the former speed skater.

“The charter has very strict rules. It is not possible to comment at medal ceremonies, but athletes are free to express their opinion at press conferences or interviews. But athletes must be responsible for what they say. We will work with the IOC to ensure that Rule 50 is strictly adhered to, “Yang said at a news conference.

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In the case of Rule 50 (Advertising, Demonstration and Propaganda), the Olympic Charter states that “no type of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in Olympic venues, sports venues and other venues”. translation charters on the website of the Czech Olympic Committee.

However, the IOC last summer before the Tokyo Games relaxed the ban on protests and allowed athletes to “express their views” during press conferences – but political demonstrations are still banned on medal stages.

This is not the first warning to the Olympians. In January, Yang Shu, Deputy Director General of the International Relations Department of Beijing 2022.

“I am sure that statements that are in line with the Olympic spirit will be protected. Anything and any conduct or manifestation contrary to the Olympic spirit, in particular Chinese laws and regulations, will be subject to a certain penalty. ” he said functionary. He indicated that the penalty could be in the form of withdrawal of accreditation.

Christophe Dubi, the executive director of the Olympic team, has meanwhile suggested that the venues at the Olympics can be filled one-third to one-half after Friday’s start of the Games.

“A program will be created for the spectators, which will ensure their presence in the stands and at the same time guarantee their safety,” said Dubi. “In terms of capacity, we haven’t decided yet, because it has to be fine-tuned based on the venue, but I’d say that if we could fill a third or a half of the seats, it would be a good result,” Dubi added.

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Concerns about the safety of the Olympics have also been raised by the obligation to install a smartphone application that athletes will use to report health and travel data during their stay in China. According to security analysts, it contains serious encryption errors.

The cyber security company Internet 2.0 also recommended that you bring prepaid one-time phones to Beijing or create special temporary e-mail accounts. Several countries have advised their representatives to leave their mobile phones at home.

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