China has warned athletes against speech or actions that break Chinese speech laws during the Winter Olympics next month. Human rights groups have advised athletes against doing anything to protest sensitive issues in China during the games for their own safety.
“Any expression that is in line with the Olympic spirit, I’m sure will be protected. Any behavior or speeches that are against the Olympic spirit, and especially against Chinese laws and regulations are also subjected to certain punishment,” said Yang Shu, a member of the Beijing Winter Olympics organizing committee.
Yang also noted that there are punishments for violating rule 50 of the Olympic charter, which prohibits any sort of “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda.”
One of the most sensitive issues China has been criticized for in recent years is the oppression of Uighur muslims, who occupy the country’s Xinjiang province. According to rights groups, at least one million Uyghurs are being held in re-education camps.
Several activists have warned athletes against speaking out against issues like the Uyghur muslims during the Winter games next month.
Craig Foster, a former Australian soccer player, now an activist, said athletes are in danger because of rule 50 and the fact that China has said it will punish athletes who break its laws.
Peng Shuai is the tennis player who was scrubbed from the internet before going missing for daring to accuse a high-ranking member of the CCP of sexual abuse. The IOC said it “can’t give assurances” about the whereabouts of Peng. Later, the organization posted an image of a video call with Peng, with a statement claiming that Peng was “safe and well,” and that she wanted her privacy to be respected.