Olympics: British Athletes To Sign Gagging Clause For Beijing Olympics

LONDON: British athletes competing at this summer’s Olympic Games in China will be forced to sign a contract promising not to speak out on political issues, Britain’s Mail on Sunday newspaper said.

The weekly newspaper said the British Olympic Association (BOA) had inserted a clause in the 32-page contracts that all athletes who meet the qualifying standard and are chosen for Beijing will have to sign.

It said the BOA confirmed to them that any athlete refusing to sign the agreement will not be allowed to travel and that any British participant who signs the document then speaks out during the games will be sent home.

There was no immediate comment from the BOA when contacted by AFP.

According to the newspaper, the clause in section four of the contract states that athletes “are not to comment on any politically sensitive issues”, which could include China’s human rights record.

It then refers to section 51 of the International Olympic Committee charter, which “provides for no kind of demonstration, or political, religious or racial propaganda in the Olympic sites, venues or other areas”.

BOA chief executive Simon Clegg was quoted as telling the newspaper: “There are all sorts of organisations who would like athletes to use the Olympic Games as a vehicle to publicise their causes.

“I don’t believe that is in the interest of the team performance. As a team we are ambassadors of the country and we have to conform to an appropriate code of conduct.”

He added: “I have to act in the interest of the whole British team, not one individual. No athlete is above being part of the team. There is a requirement on team members to sign the agreement.

“If athletes step out of line, action will have to be taken.” – AFP/ac

Channel News Asia

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