Two weeks before the Winter Olympics open in Beijing on February 4, Amnesty International is sounding the alarm. “In many areas, the human rights situation has deteriorated significantly compared to 2008, when Beijing was the scene of the Summer Olympics,” she said in a statement.
The situation in the host country is described as “catastrophic”. Promises regarding freedom of demonstration and freedom of expression are not being kept. Amnesty International’s appeal: “The international community should take the Beijing Winter Olympics as an opportunity to demand improvements in the human rights situation in China.”
For their part, the Chinese are trying to get the wind out of their sails before the games start. Yang Shu, a member of the organizing committee, explains that “any actions or statements that go against the Olympic spirit and, above all, Chinese law will be punished.”
The Olympic Committee no longer provides such a muzzle. The IOC had already relaxed Article 50 of the Olympic Charter ahead of the Summer Games in Tokyo. Political protests are only prohibited at official ceremonies, during competitions and in the Olympic Village, but are permitted in interviews and on social media.
However, experts fear that athletes are not adequately protected by the International Olympic Committee against Chinese abuse. “Silence is complicity,” says Rob Koehler, director general of the World Athletics Federation.
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