Political Protest At Winter Olympics Is Punishable, China Warns

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Officials overseeing 2022 Winter Olympics are sending out a warning against demonstrations and political protests during competition.

One official said athletes could be punished for action that "violates the Olympic spirit" particularly any behavior that goes "against Chinese laws and regulations" on human rights.

"Any expression that is in line with the Olympic spirit I'm sure will be protected and anything and any behavior or speeches that is against the Olympic spirit, especially against Chinese laws and regulations, are subject to certain punishment," said Yang Shu, deputy director general of the Beijing Games international relations department, when asked about athletes speaking out on humanitarian issues during the games, according to Reuters.

Yang said that accreditation cancellation is on the list of possible punishments for violations.

Yang's message comes after a Human Right Watch seminar Tuesday (January 18) that warned athletes about speaking out on human rights issues while visiting China, Reuters reported.

The Olympic Charter includes the widely-discussed Rule 50 that says "No kind of demonstration or political, religious, or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites." The rule came into question last year during the Summer Games, but was loosened to allow athletes to make gestures that were deemed respectful to competitors and made without disrupting the games.

According to The Hill, the International Olympic Committee has previously suggested athletes feel free to express their opinion on certain issues during press conferences but not during medal ceremonies or actual competition.

"The Games are governed by the IOC Rules. They will be applied to the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 like at any other edition of the Games before," the IOC said.

Reuters also noted that in the past any violations to the Olympic Charter were handled solely by the IOC.

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