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US athletes entitled to specific themselves freely at Beijing Olympics: State Dept

Washington [US], February 3 (ANI): Amid hue and cry over Beijing silencing critics ahead of the Winter Olympics, the US State Department on Wednesday (local time) said that American athletes are entitled to express themselves freely.

The US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price in a press briefing said, “US athletes are entitled to express themselves freely in line with the spirit and charter of the Olympics, which includes advancing human rights. We call on the PRC to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including that very freedom of expression,” in guidance to athletes who want to express any opposition to China’s human rights abuses while they are in Beijing for the Olympics.

Price also said that the US does not have any official diplomatic representation on the ground.

“We have also made clear we were not and are not coordinating a global campaign regarding participation in the Olympics. We know that the PRC uses disinformation to veil ongoing genocide in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses. We know that the PRC has made various accusations, including against US athletes, and we know that’s what’s going on here,” said the spokesperson.

Regarding International Olympic Committee (IOC) Rule 50.2 that prohibits public demonstrations of the athletes during the games at Olympic sites or venues, but leave open interpretation for places outside of those sites or venues, or on social media, Price reiterated that US athletes are entitled to express themselves freely.

Moreover, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has asked the US athletes to keep their personal cell phones at home and use burner phones during the upcoming 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, giving a clear warning of possible malicious cyber activities during the Games.

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The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on Tuesday said in a statement that the FBI calls on US Olympic athletes to keep their personal cell phones at home and use burner phones during the upcoming 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.

“The FBI urges all athletes to keep their personal cell phone at home and use a temporary phone while attending the events,” the CISA said in the statement.

The human rights activists have made claims that Beijing is silencing critics domestically ahead of the Winter Olympics and using arbitrary ways such as not letting activists leave their houses and putting them behind bars ahead of the Olympics. The move aims to prevent any protests, criticism or condemnation of China related to human rights violations or others during the Beijing Winter Olympics. (ANI)