Olympians weigh politics

Some 625 China-bound U.S. athletes are targeted in a growing campaign by activist group Team Darfur to persuade athletes worldwide to use their voices in China to make a political point. U.S. Olympic Committee officials this year instituted mandatory “ambassador” seminars that teach about China and encourage athletes to think carefully about how best to represent their country. Yet USOC officials say they’ll let athletes decide for themselves whether to speak out on sensitive issues — as long as they stay mum at official Olympics sites, in accordance with International Olympic Committee rules.

The USOC stayed firm as government and Olympics officials in Europe, Britain and New Zealand recently moved toward silencing China-bound athletes. Freedom of speech and expression are “values of our country,” USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel said. “As an Olympic committee, we would not restrict values that are consistent with what we stand for as a country. . . . It’s up to the athletes to make individual choices.”

Read More