Noah Hoffman, former Olympic cross-country skier, states that he is “scared” for the athletes’ security who might be thinking of voicing out their concern about human rights issues during Beijing 2022.
He is concerned about the Chinese Communist Party’s (CPP) human rights history and the inadequate support from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), says Hoffman, who retired from competitive skiing after the 2018 PyeongChang Games.
A Beijing 2022 official said previously this month that athletes who illustrate behavior “that is against the Olympic spirit, especially against Chinese law and regulations” will deal with a “certain punishment.”
The IOC later repeatedly stated that any kind of objection must not occur throughout competitions and formal ceremonies; however, the Olympic Committee has stated that athletes are open to make their personal views in press conferences and interviews.
Hoffman said, “I’m scared for athletes who are headed there because athletes are going into a really difficult situation with the restrictions on speech in China.”
“Athletes have been warned by the organizing committee that if they violate the laws of China, they will be punished but the laws of China, when it comes to speech, are extremely opaque,” he added. “It’s not clear at all what kind of speech might be deemed illegal.”
The Peng Shuai case exhibits how detrimental it could be for athletes who conclude to spout off against China.
Peng feared being declared incommunicado last November by the Chinese government following her long account that retired Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli forced her into sex throughout the years of their on and off relationship.
The post was deleted in the span of 30 minutes, and Chinese censors went to lengths taking down all tracks of her allegations, terminating any reference from airwaves in China.
A media outlet even broadcast the story; however, China’s censors altered the platform broadcast to color bars, prohibiting any cite of the story in China.