The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing are right around the corner. As a result, American athletes are getting ready to compete on the world’s biggest athletic stage. They’re getting their travel documents in order, pushing harder in training, and buying burner phones. At least, that’s what Team USA is urging them to do.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Team USA is urging all of its athletes to leave their personal phones at home. Instead, they are telling all team members to pick up burner phones for the journey. They hope to prevent Chinese surveillance of athletes who are in Beijing for the Winter Olympics.
The Chinese government is well-known for its massive surveillance networks. Team USA doesn’t want to see its athletes come under the watchful eye of the country’s communist government. Having burner phones will give athletes one less thing to worry about while they’re in Beijing for the Olympics. Additionally, it will allow them to remain in contact with their loved ones while in China.
This report comes on the heels of an announcement from the Biden Administration regarding an American diplomatic presence at the Beijing Winter Olympics. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki made the announcement in December.
She told the press, “The Biden Administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games, given the PRC’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses.” Psaki also added that the athletes of Team USA have the administration’s “full support.”
Benefits of Burner Phones During the Beijing Winter Olympics
The concept of a “burner phone” probably brings to mind images of shady people doing shady things. However, honest individuals can benefit from burner phones as well. The Team USA athletes at the Beijing Winter Olympics are a great example of how upstanding people can these phones.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, burner phones are cheap prepaid phones. Usually, burners are flip phones or other older models because they’re cheaper. Burner phones are meant to be discarded. Additionally, they store much less personal data. So if an athlete’s phone gets stolen or confiscated during their time in Beijing for the Olympics, it won’t be much of an issue. On the other hand, if they get government-sponsored malware on their burner phone, they can just throw it away when they get home. This will limit how much data the athletes lose as well as how much prying eyes can learn from the phones.
American citizens at large won’t need to worry about getting a burner phone. The International Olympic Committee isn’t allowing any foreign spectators at the Winter Olympics in Beijing. This measure is in place to stop the spread of COVID. Chinese citizens will be able to attend the games.