Olympic athletes who will compete in the Beijing Winter Games are being guided by their respective committees to do not bring their own electronic devices (such as smartphones, laptops, smartwatches and tablets) to the country. The instruction refers to the growing concern with the cyber security in China by western countries, mainly. The topic is being debated in several National Olympic Committees (NOCs) of the confederations that will participate in the event.
As reported by the news agency Reuters, many NOCs indicate that their athletes rent temporary devices or disposables, a common practice for cell phones. Other entities have stated that they will be in charge of providing competitors and officials with the temporary appliances. Anyway, the premise is not to take any electronics of their own to Beijing to avoid possible vulnerability and data exposure.
In a statement, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) stated that it is necessary to assume that texts, emails and access to apps can be monitored. The USOPC also says that there is “no expectation of data security or privacy” in China while the Winter Olympics are taking place. The Canadian Olympic Committee goes further and suggests that the event is a “unique opportunity for cybercrime“.
Other committees that share the same caution are the Swiss, Swedish and British. The entities are even giving practical cybersecurity advice and informing your athletes about data privacy conditions in China. One of the USOPC guidelines, for example, is to clear personal data and install VPNs (virtual private networks) on personal devices, in case someone decides to take them to the games.
The Winter Olympics in Beijing will take place from February 4 to 20, 2022.