Two-time Olympian Noah Hoffman advises athletes to remain silent at Beijing Olympics

FasterSkierFebruary 2, 2022
Ski & Snowboard Club Vail alumnus is working for Global Athlete to increase athlete-voice

By Ryan Sederquist, Vail Daily News
January 28, 2022

Two-time Olympian Noah Hoffman’s life is busier now than it ever was during his 10-year U.S. Nordic ski team career. The soon-to-be Brown graduate — he’ll have an economics degree by May — has thrown himself into athlete activism since his retirement in 2018.

Hoffman started in the anti-doping world before becoming a founding athlete board member of Global Athlete, an organization which seeks to hold sport governing bodies such as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Ski Federation (FIS) accountable. In striving to increase athlete voice and give his former peers a proper seat at the table, he finds himself at the fore of another Olympics.

Noah Hoffman (bib 13) races in a pre-Olympic World Cup in Pyeongchang, Korea in April, 2017. (Photo: NordicFocus)

At a Human Rights Watch roundtable discussion last week, he spoke out against the IOC’s lack of accountability regarding the Beijing Games. (See video embedded below.) The oppression of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region, as well as the communist government’s actions in Tibet and Hong Kong, its general intolerance of dissent and the recent plight of Peng Shuai all fueled a diplomatic boycott of the Games by the United States government. The IOC has not stated whether it will protect athletes who speak out against human rights abuses, leaving them at the whim of the Chinese state. Canada, Britain and other nations have joined in the diplomatic boycott as well.

“Rule 50 and its restraint of free speech on athletes aligns uncommonly well with the CCP’s social repression and athletes should be enraged that both their host, and their governing body, seek to limit their voice,” human rights activist and lawyer Craig Foster told the South China Morning Post.

“Chinese government officials and diplomats have confirmed that athletes are being silenced and threatened with Draconian penalties in Beijing simply if they speak out against genocide.”

In a 45-minute podcast with the [Vail] Daily’s Ryan Sederquist, Hoffman elaborated on the vagueness of a senior member of the Beijing organizing committee’s statement about punishment for speaking out against the government.

“Chinese law, when it comes to what kind of speech is permitted, especially speech that is critical of the Chinese state, is very opaque. It’s not clear at all what kind of speech she’s talking about,” he said.

For that reason, Hoffman is going against his nature, advising athletes — many of whom are friends and former teammates — to remain silent.

To read the full story, follow this link to the Vail Daily News. 

Full roundtable discussion. Hoffman is interviewed at approximately 8:00 and 43:30.


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