US Senator Seeking to Forbid Athletes from Receiving Digital Yuan during Olympics

ByEdward Thompson

Jul 24, 2021

The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee has been urged by three US senators to forbid American athletes from using or receiving digital yuan during the Olympics in Beijing. The three senators raised a number of concerns, including privacy, and said that Olympic athletes should bear in mind that the digital yuan could be used for surveillance of Chinese citizens, along with those visiting the country, on an unprecedented scale. A letter was written by three US senators on Monday to Susanne Lyons, who serves as the chairman of the board of the USOPC i.e. the United States Olympics & Paralympic Committee, to share their concerns regarding the digital yuan.

Senators Cynthia Lummis, Roger Wicker, and Marsha Blackburn wrote the letter and they said that they were concerned regarding the plans of the communist Chinese government of launching the Digital Currency Electronic Payment officially, which is commonly referred to as the digital yuan, before the Beijing Winter Olympics scheduled for this year. The digital yuan is basically the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) and this means that it is entirely controlled by the central bank, so it can be tracked and traced. 

The Chinese government has been conducting tests and has also given away the digital yuan in multiple cities. Likewise, a number of companies have also begun accepting the CBDC as a means of payment. They also recently unveiled the white paper for the digital yuan. According to the senators, even though the Chinese Communist Party insists that their goal is to digitize coins and banknotes, but people should be aware that it can be used for surveillance purposes. After all, people will be required to use digital yuan wallets on their smartphones, making them easy to track and trace, especially if the athletes continue to use them upon their return.

The letter by the three US senators further added that there are a number of problematic privacy implications associated with the integration of digital currency by China into global commerce. They said that their concerns were not just hypothetical because digital payment platforms like Wechat are already in use for surveilling, threatening as well as arresting citizens in China. The senators requested the USOPC to collaborate with the U.S. Department of Treasury, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Department of Commerce for protecting the privacy of the country’s athletes from the Chinese government.

The senators also asked for a briefing regarding this matter for members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, within 30 days of receiving the letter. Zhao Lijan, the spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said that the letter simply revealed the ignorance of the senators. He stated that they should first figure out the exact nature of a digital currency. He also added that the politicians should also abide by the spirit of the Olympic Charter and that they shouldn’t turn a sports matter into a political one. 

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