Top athletes are used to being closely watched during the Olympics, but their electronic devices could join them in February's Beijing Winter Games. Olympians from the U.S., Great Britain, Australia and more are being asked to use disposable devices – better known as "burners" – over fear of Chinese surveillance.
Team USA issued a technology advisory on the issue, suggesting its Olympians use virtual private networks (VPNs) and delete all personal data before and after their time in China if they opt against disposable devices.
"Despite any and all safeguards that are put in place to protect the systems and data that are brought to China, it should be assumed that all data and communications in China can be monitored, compromised or blocked," the advisory states, per USA Today.
The British Olympic Association and Australian Olympic Committee echoed Team USA's sentiment to its athletes, and the Dutch Olympic Committee went further by saying it is "anticipating Chinese surveillance during the Games."
Beijing 2022 organizers have yet to comment on the cyber-security concerns, but The Global Times – China's state-run newspaper – downplayed them. In an op-ed, The Global Times suggested the Dutch Olympic Committee is merely promoting anti-China propaganda.
"The accusation is based on fake news, ignorance and the West's own deeds," the op-ed read.
The cyber-security issue comes after the U.S. and Australia announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games, meaning the countries will send only athletes and no diplomatic representatives to the event, which begins Feb. 4.