Olympic Committee Grants Free Speech To Athletes

The Autstralian Olympic Committee has backed down from its previous decision that would prevent its athletes from freely expressing their views at the Olympic Games. The new agreement with athletes states: “Accredited persons at the Games may of course express their opinions on human rights and other such issues…Such expression of opinions and the conduct of participants should be inspired by full compliance with the Olympic Charter.” In a second change, the AOC executve board agreed to drop its clause banning athletes from talking about anything other than their performance.

The International Olympic Committee granted the 2008 games to China under the impression the Chinese government would respect the rights of its own people as well as those attending the games. There was hope China would relax restrictions on speech and cease harrassing dissidents. Those hopes have never been translated into action.

China could still make its mark as a nation concerned about human rights if it took a proactive stance against Myanmar over the issue of cyclone relief.