For U.S. Olympic athletes, the censorship will likely not end once the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing come to an end — it will only continue when they return home, human rights experts warn.
With many athletes relying on lucrative corporate sponsorship deals, companies are at risk of losing money if athletes speak out against the ongoing Chinese genocide against Muslim Uyghurs. Companies such as Airbnb, Alibaba Group, Allianz, Coca Cola, Samsung are sponsors of Team USA and conduct business in China.
“The Chinese government actually frequently uses economic coercion to achieve their political goals,” said Teng Biao, human rights activist and visiting professor at the University of Chicago, via FOX News Digital.
Biao added that despite the possible risks, athletes still have a moral responsibility to speak up against the Chinese government. Biao was frank in his opinion of this year’s Winter Olympics, calling it the “genocide games.”
Yang Shu, deputy director general of international relations for the Beijing Organizing Committee (BOC), said before the Games began that any criticism of the Chinese government or culture would come with consequences.
“Any behavior or speech that is against the Olympic spirit, especially against Chinese laws and regulations, are also subject to certain punishment,” Shu said, via FOX Business.
Yaqiu Wang, senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch, expressed her concerns for athletes participating in the games, placing the blame on the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
“There are also a lot of, you know, government leaders, world leaders, including the head of the [United Nations], delivering a speech during the opening ceremony,” Wang said. “It’s a way to show that, you know, all these national dignitaries are coming here to congratulate the opening of the games. Of course, it’s using the game to legitimize its policies. There’s no doubt about that.”
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