FAO: Jacques Rogge
International Olympic Committee
Petition to the International Olympic Committee on the Gagging of Olympic Athletes
We, the undersigned, call on you in your capacity as President of the International Olympic Committee to ensure that the International Olympic Committee refrains from taking any steps that would inhibit the right to freedom of expression of athletes participating in this summer\'s Beijing Olympics.
Article 51(3) of the International Olympic Charter states: \"No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.\"
We appeal to you to respect and protect the athletes\' right to freedom of expression by issuing a clear statement to all Olympic athletes explaining that statements regarding human rights fall outside the scope of Article 51(3) of the Olympic Charter.
We are sensitive to the need to avoid the Olympics being used as a political platform for the promotion of religious propaganda or racism. However, it is our belief that preventing athletes from discussing human rights abuses is a violation of their basic human right to freedom of expression stemming from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It also goes against the Fundamental Principles of Olympism. These appear at the beginning of the Olympic Charter and indicate that the Olympic Movement \"seeks to create a way of life based on ... respect for universal fundamental ethical principles\". Not only would the Committee\'s curtailing of athletes\' freedom of expression contradict the spirit of the Games, but it would also appear to condone human rights abuses committed by many countries around the world, including and particularly China.
ARTICLE 19 is an international human rights organisation which defends and promotes freedom of expression and freedom of information all over the world.
Reporters Without Borders defends journalists and media assistants imprisoned or persecuted for doing their job and exposes the mistreatment and torture of them in many countries, fights against censorship and laws that undermine press freedom, gives financial aid each year to 100 or so journalists or media outlets in difficulty (to pay for lawyers, medical care and equipment) as well to the families of imprisoned journalists, and works to improve the safety of journalists, especially those reporting in war zones.
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