Winter Olympics 2022: here’s why American athletes are deprived of smartphones

Just before leaving for the Winter Olympics in Beijing, American athletes received a memo urging them not to bring their smartphones into the country. Instead, they are encouraged to use disposable phones. Several other countries have made the same request to their athletes.

olympic games night
Credits: Unsplash

Relations between the United States and China have never been so tense. Accused of espionage for several years, the Middle Kingdom systematically denies. However, rumors about its smartphone manufacturers are increasing. They are the ones who pushed exclusion of Huawei from US transactions, which, it is said, did not prevent the firm from spying on the Pakistanis, but also the Netherlands on the orders of its government. Xiaomi is not left out since the manufacturer would install backdoors on its devices.

Also, with the approach of the Winter Olympics to be held in Beijing, it is obviously time for caution. As every year, American athletes receive a document informing them of the local laws and customs to respect. This year, the newsletter is somewhat different. He invites, quite insistently, to do not bring your smartphone to China. Instead, athletes are encouraged to opt for disposable phones if they want to stay in touch with loved ones.

For fear of espionage, several countries do not want smartphones at the Beijing Olympics

Furthermore, the United States is far from alone to take this precaution. The Canadian Olympic Committee informs its athletes that “that the Olympics present a unique opportunity for cybercrime”, and ask them to “Exercise extra caution at the Games, including considering leaving personal devices at home, limiting personal information stored on devices brought to the Games, and practicing good cyber hygiene at all times. »

On the same subject: JO 2020 – Tokyo presents the Olympic medals from the recycling of 6 million smartphones

The United Kingdom and the Netherlands have done the same. They even recommended their athletes to destroy their disposable phone after returning from China. It is not, in itself, particularly strange that the various Committees warn athletes against the risks of hacking and espionage, the Olympic Games representing a golden opportunity for hackers to infiltrate devices. But the exceptional tension towards China, renowned for mass surveillance of its own inhabitants, does not seem to reassure Western countries.

Source: wall street journal

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