Catholic News Agency reports that China is insisting that the Olympic Village conform to Chinese atheistic norms–athletes will not be permitted to bring Bibles or religious objects with them (in the name of “security concerns”).
No word from the International Olympic Committee or national teams.
Time for a boycott, I’d say.
Bill Donohue calls on International Olympic Committee to respond.
“Principle #5 of the Fundamental Principles of Olympism in the Olympic Charter reads, ‘Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.’ Under Chapter Two, Rule 23, Paragraph 1.6 of the Charter, the Executive Board of the IOC has the power to withdraw the right of the host city to organize the Olympic Games if the Charter is violated. However, Paragraph 3 says, ‘Before applying any measure or sanction, the competent IOC body may issue a warning.’ Accordingly, I am asking the IOC to do just that. If the warning fails, then the Catholic League will petition the IOC to deny China the 2008 Olympic Games.
“In addition to violating religious liberties, the Chinese government is guilty of gross hypocrisy. On the website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, there are several comments lauding religious rights. For example, it says, ‘China is a country with religious freedom and respects every religion.’ It also posts a statement of October 17, 2007 titled, ‘Beijing Olympics Will Provide High-Level Service on Religion.’ Moreover, just four days later—for the first time in its history—the Communist Party of China amended its Constitution to guarantee religious liberty. Indeed, Ye Xiaowen, China’s Director of the State Administration of Religious Affairs, boasted that the Beijing Olympics would respect religious liberties. Yet he is the same person who now says Bibles have been banned! But no matter, we won’t let them get away with this.”
Update: China is angrily denouncing such reports as unfounded rumors, and questioning the motives of those who would be spreading them. Reuters, AP, AP (on USOC). Catholic News Agency does not say it got the story wrong–it says China has changed its stance.
Update: I got this from the USOC:
We have received confirmation from both the International Olympic Committee and the Beijing Organizing Committee that Bible and other religious materials will be permitted in the Athletes Village for personal use.The news reports that the Beijing Organizing Committee was considering a prohibition were completely incorrect and stemmed from a miscommunication between a journalist form Italy and a representative of the organizing committee.
In addition, there will be an area in the Athletes village where athletes, coaches and officials can worship – as is always the case at the Olympic Games.