China's human rights record have many Olympics official worried that the event could turn into one big human rights protest. Many athletes hope to draw attention to these issues, such as China's policies in the Darfur region of Sudan. This athlete says he feels free to express himself at Beijing but he doesn't know what that means. Britain tried to get its athletes to agree not to comment on any sensitive issues during the Games, and then quickly backed down. Other countries have considered similar measures. There are instances in the past when athletes have put their roles as cultural ambassadors to the test, the most iconic of which occurred at the Mexico City Games in 1968 when two US sprinters raised black-gloved fists on the medal podiums. This Olympic historian says their opposition opens the door for any other protest, which can get out of hand. The IOC can't stop athletes from protesting but it does try to protect the games from political cooption. The Olympics draw huge TV audiences so the opportunity for protest may be too hard to pass up for some athletes.

Related Stories