Athletes Urged Not to Say Anything About Human rights Issues During Beijing Games

Athletes at the Beijing Olympics were urged by human rights activists Tuesday to avoid criticizing China because they could be prosecuted.

The activists and advocacy groups also warned athletes not to expect the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to protect them if they stood up for human rights. 

“It is absolutely ridiculous that we’re telling athletes to be quiet. But the IOC has not come out proactively to indicate that it will protect them. Silence is complicity and that’s why we have concerns,” Global Athlete Director-General Rob Koehler said

“So we’re advising athletes not to speak up. We want them to compete and use their voice when they get home,” Koehler added.

The IOC has not responded to requests earlier to clarify how Chinese law could apply at the Beijing Games, which open on February 4.

“Chinese laws are very vague on the crimes they can use to prosecute people’s free speech,” Human Rights Watch researcher Yaqiu Wang said, citing potential offenses of provoking trouble or inciting subversion.

Amid concerns about data privacy and spying in China, some Olympic teams in Europe have also advised athletes not to take personal telephones and laptops to Beijing.

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