China’s Warnings To Athletes Over Free Speech During Olympics: Report

Sydney: Beijing Winter Olympics reveal a very different face of China as during the Summer Olympics in 2008, authorities had not imposed severe restrictions on locals and did not warn visiting athletes over speaking against Beijing. However, this time a lot has changed and Chinese officials have warned athletes not to speak against the country’s law and also made house arrests of local activists whom the communist regime believes might stage protests during the Winter Olympics that might taint the reputation of China, according to a media report.

In 2008, during Summer Olympics in Beijing, the Chinese government announced that it had designated three parks in the capital for anyone wanting to protest during the Games. It seems quaint to recall this gesture these days, as empty as it was. In the end, no protest permits were issued by the local police. The demonstrators who did take the risk during the Games were rounded up and taken away, reported Nikkei Asia

But the moment is worth remembering if only to contrast it with the lead-up to the Beijing Winter Olympics, scheduled to open tomorrow, as organizers warned athletes that their accreditations could be cancelled if they spoke out of turn, said the publication further.

In January, the Beijing organizing committee’s Yang Shu had said that any behaviour or speech that is against the Olympic spirit, especially against the Chinese laws and regulations, is also subject to certain punishment.

The journey from protest parks for locals, albeit Potemkin ones, to “certain punishment” for outspoken foreigners is instructive, and not just because it tells you how Beijing no longer thinks it has to pander to critics of its human rights record, according to Nikkei Asia.