Chinese Cyclists Warned Over Chairman Mao Pin Badges At Tokyo Olympics

Bao Shanju and Zhong Tianshi wore the badges during a medal ceremony. Chinese team officials said it wouldn’t happen again.

Two Chinese cyclists who wore Mao Zedong pins after winning gold in the women’s sprint final on Monday have escaped serious censure for violating Olympic rules banning political propaganda.

The small red and gold pins worn by Bao Shanju and Zhong Tianshi were commonplace during the Cultural Revolution, a decade of social and political chaos in China where hundreds of thousands died or were sent to re-education to the countryside.

But while they appeared to violate Rule 50 of the Olympic charter, which bans “political, religious or racial propaganda” at Games venues, the International Olympic Committee announced on Saturday that the cyclists would receive only a warning. “We have received a clarification and the athletes have been warned,” said Christian Klaue. “We have received assurances from the Chinese Olympic Committee that it will not happen again and the IOC considers this case closed.”

The IOC has put an investigation into a crossed-arms gesture made on the podium by the US shot put silver medalist Raven Saunders on hold after the death of her mother. Saunders said it was an expression of support for the oppressed.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch warned that the Beijing Winter Olympics next February is set to become a “triumphal Chinese communist spectacle in the snow” as it urged the IOC to adopt policies that could help stop serious human rights abuses. Minky Worden, the director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch, said the situation had “downgraded markedly” since China hosted the summer Games in 2008.

“China is in the midst of its worst human rights crackdown since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989,” said Worden. “The Olympics are shaping up to be a triumphal Chinese communist spectacle in the snow. Some of you have seen senior IOC leaders say that the Olympics are not political. We wish someone would tell that to the Chinese government.

“For an autocracy like China the Olympics are not just about sport, they are a geopolitical event that can elevate the status of the government and the ruling Chinese Communist party at home and abroad.”

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