Pelosi warns US Olympic athletes not to anger China with protests

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi discouraged Olympic athletes from protesting at the opening ceremony in Beijing on Thursday, saying it was not worth the risk of retaliation from a “ruthless” Chinese government.

Pelosi said that she and other politicians would speak out against China’s human rights record, but that athletes would be at risk if they used their platform to protest.

“I want to say to our athletes: You guys are there to compete,” she said. “Don’t risk the anger of the Chinese government, because they are cruel.”

It is not known how the Chinese government will respond to the protests, but officials have warned that athletes must obey Chinese laws. Several national teams, including the United States and Canada, have warned their athletes that there could be legal risk in speaking out – from both the International Olympic Committee and China’s justice system. .

“I know that some people are tempted to speak up while they are there,” Pelosi said. “I respect that. But I’m also worried about what the Chinese government might do to their reputation, to their families.”

Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, said she has been contacted by about two dozen Olympic athletes to discuss the lack of freedom of expression in Beijing.

“A lot of people who have never been to China before or have been but are not clear about the circumstances or the environment,” she said, “have been contacted with questions about what they can say or do, what concerns they may have. concerned about what the authorities’ response might be. ” Pelosi warns US Olympic athletes not to anger China with protests

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