Sweden won’t gag athletes in Beijing

Sweden's Olympic Committee (SOC) said Tuesday it would allow its athletes competing at the Beijing Games to express themselves freely as long as they respect International Olympic Committee regulations.

“We won’t gag our athletes,” SOC president Stefan Lindeberg told AFP.

“But we have been very clear with them about the IOC’s rules that the Olympics cannot be used as an arena for demonstrations or for political or religious views,” he said.

He stressed that the athletes would be allowed “to speak freely when answering reporters’ questions for example.”

More than 100 Swedish athletes who have qualified or who are expected to qualify for the Olympics have already been briefed on China’s history, culture, society and political situation, Lindeberg said.

In Britain, the British Olympic Association (BOA) backed down Sunday on its plan to prevent all British competitors from commenting on “politically sensitive issues” surrounding the August 8-24 Beijing Games.