The Washington Post has an editorial today which strongly opposes a recent decision by the Belgian Olympic Committee to expressly forbid its athletes from making political statements in Olympic venues. Britain and New Zealand also appear to be muzzling their athletes, lest anyone get offended about human rights in the host countries of the games:
In making its Olympic bid, China repeatedly argued that placing the Games in Beijing would “help the development of human rights.” Yet China’s human rights record has in many ways worsened (as in the appalling arrest of dissident Hu Jia recently), and China has continued to abet repression in Burma and Sudan. Belgium’s and Britain’s orders to athletes not to comment on China’s poor behavior may actually embolden Beijing. They also set a bad precedent for authoritarian regimes that may host the Games in the coming years — including Russia, which is hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics.
If China can get foreign governments to censure their own citizens, then Russia will clearly expect to have similar success.