July 18, 2024

U.S. lawmakers’ worried ‘about athletes’ safety at Winter Games

2 min read
U.S. lawmakers' worried 'about athletes' safety at Winter Games
U.S. lawmakers' worried 'about athletes' safety at Winter Games

Freedom of expression, data protection … U.S. lawmakers expressed their “concern” on Monday in a letter to the U.S. Olympic Committee regarding the safety of athletes during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, a copy of which AFP received.

“Several recent events have raised concerns about the safety of athletes, and in our view, an urgent response is needed,” said a parliamentary committee specializing in China with members of US political parties.

Yang Shu, an official with the Olympic Games organization, said lawmakers said they were shocked by the words “speech contrary to the Olympic spirit” and “Chinese laws and regulations” subject to certain restrictions.

“Being an American citizen is not a defense against the discriminatory behavior of the Chinese government,” they warn in the letter.

They also point to the use of MY2022, which should be downloaded and used by all participants in the Beijing Winter Games (February 4-20), as security vulnerabilities identified by Citizen Laboratory have increased fears of attacks on personal data.

Defects in the application were “already fixed”, the Games Organizing Committee assured AFP.

But many Western Olympic committees have advised their athletes to use alternative smartphones or emails during the Games.

The group of lawmakers, led by Democrats Jeff Merkley and James McGovern, is finally urging the US Olympic Committee to “protect” Xinjiang from “forced labor” of its products.

The United States announced in early December that it was diplomatically boycotting games for human rights abuses, accusing China of involvement against the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang.

In mid-December, the U.S. Olympic Committee announced in advance to Chinese law that the U.S. team of 222 athletes would be prepared to live the Olympics “otherwise”.

Asked if the U.S. president would like to see athletes release political statements during the Games, White House spokeswoman Zhen Zaki said on Monday that the Biden administration had “expressed support for freedom of expression.”

cjc / rle / ma / lda / am

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