According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee has urged athletes to use burner phones instead of their personal devices throughout the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics, which start on 4 February. The advice was issued over concerns about surveillance and malicious software use.
The advice was reportedly sent out in September last year, and again in December. According to the Wall Street Journal, the bulletin from December said: “Your device(s) may also be compromised with malicious software, which could negatively impact future use.”
This is not the first time the U.S. has advised athletes to use burner phones when competing in China. Similar guidance was issued by the U.S. during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
Canada, the Netherlands and Britain have also issued similar advice. The British Olympic Association said it had “given athletes and staff practical advice so that they can make their own choice as to whether they take their personal devices to the Games, or not”. The Dutch Sports Federation has reportedly advised athletes it will provide burner phones and then destroy the devices once the athletes return home.
Earlier this week, cybersecurity group Citizen Lab claimed the ‘My2022’ app, which will be used by athletes, media and spectators, does not provide encryption on many of its files. The group advised that those attending the Games should consider using a burner phone and a separate email account for their time in China.