The British Olympic Association wants to make sure that its athletes do not confuse pollute the games with discussions of basic freedoms while in Beijing for the Olympic Games. Athletes must sign a contract promising not to criticize China for the denial of human rights.
Graham Nathan, spokesman for the British Olympics Association (BOA), told CNN that “British athletes will have to sign a contract promising not to comment on any politically sensitive issues.” Perish the thought that athletes would notice the dissidents being carted away when there are important games to play.
Notably, the contract guarantees that there is really no difference between athletes beyond the flag that they are carrying. Presumably, a nation prides itself not just on its athletes but their success in a free nation. As East Germany and Romania showed, it is easy to produce top athletes if you treat them and your citizens as cattle. Our athletes represent our country and its values. China was a controversial choice because of its denial of basic freedoms to its people. Since it insisted on the games, it will have to deal with the presence of free thought and free speech — at least among foreign athletes. It is bizarre that free nation are expected to yield to a repressive system by ignoring the realities around them.
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