Winter Olympics athletes warned of 'Orwellian' levels of surveillance they'll be under in Beijing 3 months ago

Winter Olympics athletes warned of 'Orwellian' levels of surveillance they'll be under in Beijing

Athletes have been warned that they will be watched by the Chinese State

Athletes who will be competing at the Beijing Winter Olympics have been warned that they will be under "Orwellian" levels of surveillance net month.

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The Daily Mail have reported that the assessment made was by a Human Rights Watch panel who have repeatedly criticised the decision to host the Games in China, claiming it is a "sportswashing" exercise designed to conceal China's "abysmal human rights record."

Dr Sophie Richardson, the China director for Human Rights Watch, also urged anyone travelling to the Games, to be cautious at all times.

"One of the features of the 2008 Olympic Games (in Beijing) was the authorities use of what was then considered high technology," she explained.

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"That pales in comparison to the Orwellian surveillance state the authorities use across the country now, where tools like AI and predictive policing, big data databases, extensive surveillance of social media, keeps people from engaging in certain types of conversation.

"Anyone who is travelling to the country for these Games - journalists, athletes, coaches – needs to be aware that this kind of surveillance could actually affect them too."

Team GB have already offered the athletes competing temporary phones to use at the Games due to fears they may be spied on, whilst there are concerns regarding the safety of athletes who use the Olympics as a platform to spread awareness on the human rights issues in China.

The director general of the Global Athlete movement, Rob Koehler, admitted that he would advise athletes not to speak out during the Games due to the rules the country has surrounding freedom of expression.

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He said: "We know their human rights record and the freedom of expression in China, so there is really not much protection that we believe is going to be afforded to athletes.

"The IOC has not come out proactively to make sure everyone is safe that decides to speak up. That is why we have concerns and why we are advising athletes not to speak up."

The Winter Olympics begins on 4 February and ends on 20 February.

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