Freedom of speech is restricted in three areas during the Winter Olympics in Beijing, but athletes are free to speak during news conferences, and via social media as long as they don't insult other people or violate their rights, International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials said Thursday.
IOC officials said these rules apply to all Olympics, wherever they are held.
"The Olympic Games are governed by the IOC rules, and this is in the host city contract and in the Olympic Charter, and we have no reason to believe that this would not be respected," IOC president Thomas Bach told reporters in a news conference in Beijing on Thursday.
When asked whether athletes should be fearful of their well-being and safety if they say things that might be objectionable to the Chinese government, Bach said, "Whenever an athlete is making a statement that he does not insult other people, that he's not violating the rights of other people," then they can express their opinion freely.
According to IOC Olympic Games executive director Christophe Dubi, athletes cannot enjoy the freedom of speech in:
- The field of play.
- The opening and closing ceremonies.
- The medal ceremonies.
Those are the "three areas where the athletes themselves have decided that there would be no demonstration," Dubi told reporters.
"We've worked with the organizing committee already in Tokyo and further explain this rule here in the context of Beijing. But again, this was a rule established by the athletes for the athletes to respect the dignity of the moment and the place," Dubi added.