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China Clamps Down and Cleans House for Olympics

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), as well as China, are looking for ways to make the Beijing Olympics run smoothly this summer.

China finally admitted yesterday that it has been tightening visa controls. Fears that activists, or even terrorists may disrupt the games, the government is implementing a more strict procedure. Typically easy to get business visas will not be available from mid-April until mid-October.

Foreign students are also being told to leave for July and August. Some estimate that as many as 10,000 students will be exiled, as China attempts to reduce the number of potential protesters.

Meanwhile in the arena, athletes' clothes and gestures will be subject to Olympic Rules. The IOC clarified "Rule 53.1" which says that "no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas." Athletes are free to answer media questions about political topics but cannot express such opinions with their look, external appearance, clothing, gestures, and written or oral statements at official Olympic sites.

Are these restrictions necessary to a safe and smooth Olympics? Do you think athletes should be able to express their opposition to human rights violations? Are the Olympics ignoring its own tradition of activism, as seen in this picture of USA athletes protesting racism in the US during the 1968 Olympics?

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