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The IOC sent a letter to all national

The IOC sent a letter to all national


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Press release 8 May about IOC retrictions from TheColorOrange

Good advices from TheColorOrange about wearing the color orange during the Olympics 2008

IOC’s restrictions (May 5th 2008) about ways of expressing.


THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ASIA

   By Mei Fong

 

  Beijing -- TO OLYMPIC athletes contemplating wearing messages of support for

Tibet, Darfur or even the notion of a better world, the International Olympic

Committee is saying, "Don't."

 

  Last week, the IOC sent a letter to all national Olympic organizing committees

saying athletes should stay away from clothes, gestures or moves that

demonstrate "political, religious or racial propaganda" at venues for the

Beijing Games. This includes "all actions, reactions, attitudes" by people,

including "external appearance, clothing, gestures and written or oral

statements."

 

  The letter appears to represent the IOC's most explicit statements to date

clarifying an existing prohibition on the use of the Olympic Games as a

political venue, and it is a bid to prevent protests from swamping what already

has become one of the most contentious Games in recent history.

 

  Recent demonstrations over China's human-rights record in Paris, London and

San Francisco during the Olympic torch relay have in turn fanned a wave of

patriotism and anti-Western sentiment in China.

 

  IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said the letter, earlier reported by the

Associated Press, makes it clear the IOC won't allow requests by, for instance,

French athletes to wear a badge marked "For a better world," an attempt by the

French contingent to express its disquiet in a way that wouldn't offend its

Chinese hosts.

 

  "We're not saying athletes can't express their views, but not at Games venues.

The Olympics are about celebrating sporting achievements," she said. She added

that the IOC would judge any violations of the rule based on "context and common

sense."

 

  Athletes would be free to express their opinions outside Olympic venues,

including in blogs, but must abide by local laws, she said. Under Chinese law,

protesters must apply for permits, a practice that frequently isn't followed.

Chinese officials have said that visitors to the Olympics must observe Chinese

law.

 

  Activist groups that have called on athletes to express their views through

clothing include Team Darfur, a Washington-based coalition of athletes, and a

Danish group called the Color Orange, which is encouraging Olympic participants

to wear orange to protest human-rights violations in China. "How can they ban a

color? They look like fools," said Color Orange's founder, Jens Galschiot. He

was denied entry into Hong Kong last week, when the Olympic torch relay was

being held there.

 

  The Olympic prohibitions also might be challenged by patriotic Chinese wearing

gear with a message professing love for China. Sales of such items have soared

in recent weeks, as Chinese reacted with fury to outside criticism and perceived

bias by Western media companies -- some of whom are underwriting the Games'

running costs.

 

  Past Olympians punished for making political gestures include American

sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who protested racial inequality by

raising black-gloved fists during the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City. Both

were suspended from the U.S. team.

 

  Another was Korean marathoner Sohn Kee-Chung, the first Korean to win an

Olympic medal. An ardent patriot, Mr. Sohn publicly lamented competing under

Japan's flag -- Korea was at the time a de facto Japanese colony -- and openly

wept when it was hoisted during his medal presentation at the 1936 Summer Games

in Berlin. Japanese authorities then banned him from competing in other running

events, according to historian David Clay Large in the book "Nazi Games: The

Olympics of 1936."

 

  Separately, China acknowledged for the first time that it is tightening its

visa policy ahead of the Olympics. Foreign-ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a

media briefing Tuesday that "we are more strict and more serious" in approving

visas.

 

  For weeks, travel agents and foreign businesspeople have complained of extra

difficulties in obtaining business or tourism visas to China. Mr. Qin said the

tighter measures were to be maintained indefinitely, to create "a safe

environment" and ensure "all the foreign friends who come to China can feel

safer and happier."


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