News today that British athletes attending this fall’s Olympic games in China will be forced to sign a gag order before they are allowed to travel to Beijing, prohibiting the Olympians from speaking out against China’s human rights record.
British Olympic chiefs are to force athletes to sign a contract promising not to speak out about China’s appalling human rights record – or face being banned from travelling to Beijing.
The move – which raises the spectre of the order given to the England football team to give a Nazi salute in Berlin in 1938 – immediately provoked a storm of protest.
The controversial clause has been inserted into athletes’ contracts for the first time and forbids them from making any political comment about countries staging the Olympic Games.
It is contained in a 32-page document that will be presented to all those who reach the qualifying standard and are chosen for the team.
From the moment they sign up, the competitors – likely to include the Queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips and world record holder Paula Radcliffe – will be effectively gagged from commenting on China’s politics, human rights abuses or illegal occupation of Tibet. …
Potentially the contract means that a British athlete who witnesses someone being mistreated on the way to a stadium is forbidden from even speaking to their colleagues about it.
It’s sad, plain and simple, that Western governments are doing nothing to press China on its commitment to improve the country’s human rights record in advance of the Beijing Olympics. The situation in Tibet gets worse by the day, and yet the British government responds by putting its citizen athletes in the same position as the Chinese do their citizens: sanctioning them for exercising free speech.