NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
FIRST ON FOX: Top Republicans in the House have called on the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) to not only keep American athletes safe while competing in the Winter Games but to properly inform them of China’s human rights abuses.
The letter, penned by the chairman of the China Task Force, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and signed by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., along with 14 other GOP members, states that given the genocide reported in China and the USOPC’s refusal to change the location of the 2022 Winter Olympics, the games now pose “an unprecedented threat to American values.”
“The [USPOC] has a responsibility to ensure our athletes are prepared for these unprecedented Olympic Games,” the letter first obtained by Fox News Digital said. Adding that it is “vital” U.S. athletes are “fully informed” about the gross human rights abuses being carried out by the Chinese Communist Party.
The lawmaker’s demands to USPOC Board Chair Susanne Lyons echoes a letter McCaul sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week which asked for detailed information on how he planned to implement the American Values and Security in International Athletics Act (AVSIA) – enacted by President Biden in December 2021.
The act requires the State Department to brief U.S. athletes competing in international competitions on any “human rights abuses and safety concerns” existent in the host nation.
But it is not just the issue of human rights abuses that has lawmakers concerned.
The FBI has warned American competitors and their teams to not only stay off social media while in China, but to leave all personal cellphones at home and rely on temporary phones instead.
The Department of Defense has said adversaries could use personal devices to conduct “social engineering and phishing campaigns” to implement malware – a move that could jeopardize personal security.
Athletes have been advised against speaking out against human rights abuses while abroad and warnings have been issued about sending even “private electronic messages critical of the PRC [People’s Republic of China] government.”
Republicans have repeatedly voiced frustration with the USOPC over its response to the expressed concerns for athlete safety and its suggestion that athletes “self-censor.”
A spokesman for the State Department told Fox News Digital it has worked “closely” with USOPC and all Team USA athletes have been briefed “about safety and security and the PRC’s atrocities and human rights abuses.”
“Additional information on human rights issues” was provided to Team USA “prior to its departure for the Games,” they added.
“We expect the PRC to uphold its obligations and ensure the safety and wellbeing of our athletes—and all athletes—competing in Beijing and to respect their human rights and fundamental freedoms,” the spokesman said.
The USPOC did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.