Olympic News Roundup: Countries Discourage Athletes from Personal Phone Use

SwimSwam will periodically update you on the biggest news around the Olympic and Paralympic world, outside of aquatic sports. Read on to learn about countries advising athletes to use temporary electronic devices at the Beijing Olympics, event organizers suspending ticket sales, and NBC unveiling its broadcast plans. 

Countries offer their athletes temporary phones and laptops over fears of possible interference by the Chinese state. 

The National Olympic Committee for the Netherlands has advised its athletes to keep their phones and laptops out of China, Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant reported last week. Sources told the newspaper that Dutch Olympians will be provided with unused devices for China, which will then be destroyed upon arrival back to the Netherlands. 

Last week, a United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) bulletin advised its athletes competing in Beijing to use rental computers and burner phones. The team’s advisory states, “Like computers, the data and applications on cell phones are subject to malicious intrusion, infection and data compromise.”

Great Britain released a statement similar to the USOPC. Competitors were warned by the British Olympic Association (BOA) that Chinese authorities could install software to track athletes’ future activity. BOA will offer temporary phones to athletes and staff. 

China will no longer sell tickets to Olympic events.

Yesterday, event organizers announced that tickets will not be sold for spectators to attend Olympic events. The organizing committee explained in a statement that the decision was made “Given the current grave and complicated situation of the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

The only people in attendance at the Olympics will be “selected” spectators. 

This comes as a change from the initial plans that the International Olympic Committee detailed back in September. Originally, mainland China residents could attend Olympic events as long as they abided by the COVID-19 safety requirements, which had not yet been released. 

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which took place during summer 2021 due to the pandemic, had no spectators. 

NBC Releases its broadcast plans for Beijing with a record 2,800 hours of coverage across all platforms.

The NBC broadcast network will feature 18 nights of primetime coverage beginning February 3 in the U.S.. 200 of these hours will be in primetime. Additionally, Peacock will be streaming all events live on its premium tier, and the NBC Sports App will live stream all coverage via authentication. 

On Sunday, February 13, NBC is broadcasting Super Bowl LVI and the Beijing Olympics. According to the press release, “The Beijing Olympics will both precede and follow NBC Sports’ coverage of Super Bowl LVI on NBC and Peacock. Programming from Beijing will begin at 8 a.m. ET and continue until Super Bowl pre-game coverage begins at Noon ET. Following post-game coverage, the Winter Olympics resume.”

Mike Tirico will be playing double duty for his hosting responsibilities. He will be in Beijing for the start of the Olympics until February 10, where he will fly to Los Angeles and continue his Olympic hosting from outside SoFi Stadium, the Super Bowl venue. After the Super Bowl, he will fly back to Beijing for the remainder of the Olympics. 

Similar to Tokyo, Beijing is 13 hours ahead of Eastern Time in the U.S. and 16 hours ahead of the West Coast.

At the Tokyo Olympics, NBC broadcasted 7,000 hours of programming across all platforms, of which 250 hours were in primetime. 

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3 months ago

Sounds like a lovely country

Holden Caufield
3 months ago

Don’t watch these Olympics.

The unoriginal Tim
3 months ago

Ice swimming when?

Reply to  The unoriginal Tim
3 months ago

Ice swimming is when the compressors break and the ice is covered with water. Not much fun when you fall and spend the rest of the session sopping wet in an ice rink!

3 months ago

The reason why anyone traveling to China should get a different phone is because living in China essentially requires downloading several Chinese apps such as WeChat, AliPay, or Baidu Maps. These apps are essentially spyware (the Mozilla Foundation straight up considers WeChat and thousands of other Chinese apps malware).

The level of privacy violation these apps engage in is well beyond what you would expect from even the most invasive western companies like Google and Facebook, and too add to the concerns the Chinese government actively monitors all activity on the Chinese internet and can easily access all of the data collected by these apps.

I wish governments would actually specifiy the exact rationale for these advisories instead… Read more »

Corn Pop
Reply to  IM FAN
3 months ago

Relax ,they will never send westerners to work camps.

katie's gator cap :)
3 months ago

mike tirico about to enter his mr worldwide era soon. (b4 i get the downvotes, i know it’s just two countries. lemme make the joke in peace you boomer swim fans)

3 months ago

A story in Australia yesterday said Border Officials are forcing people coming into Australia to hand over their phones, and all their passwords, and the officials are then copying the contents of your phone before handing them back…..maybe not China, but still pretty wrong….

3 months ago

So primetime in USA but not live?

3 months ago

This Olympics is already a train wreck

Reply to  Joe
3 months ago

Most don’t trust their devices and data in China. Burner devices are common.

Corn Pop
Reply to  Joe
3 months ago

I guess you are out of the loop but some pretty exciting competitions ahead. We are blessed with a incredible ice skating field for one .

I don’t know about train wrecks, you are talking of a country with almost 40,000kms of high speed train , not Amtrak .

Last edited 3 months ago by Corn Pop
Awsi Dooger
Reply to  Corn Pop
3 months ago

The curling field is phenomenal. Every country had a high profile star team advance, both in men’s and women’s. Biathlon will be very intriguing and more wide open than in recent Olympics, although there are always surprises. And so forth. I’m really looking forward to it.