Report Says China Targeted US Olympic Athletes for Special Scrutiny

The USA Today newspaper reports the Chinese government created a listed of nine U.S. athletes and one coach for special scrutiny during the Beijing Olympics in August.

The newspaper reports that China's minister counselor for cultural affairs, Shu Xiao, gave the U.S. Olympic committee a list of names at a July 8 meeting at the Chinese embassy in Washington.  Shu said China was concerned that several U.S. athletes - some affiliated with the human rights organization Team Darfur - would stage demonstrations during the games.

The athletes included softball players Jenni Finch and Jessica Mendoza, soccer player Abby Wambach, who broke her leg before the Games and could not compete, cyclist Jonathan page and assistant softball coach Karen Johns.

U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Darryl Seibel told the newspaper that the Chinese concerns were unjustified.  He said the committee communicated to the Chinese that U.S. athletes would have the same right to free speech consistent with the Olympic charter.

The newspaper quoted Wambach as saying the extra scrutiny may be "the biggest compliment of [her] life."  Wambach said the Chinese response encourages the athletes' efforts to get China to change its relations with Sudan.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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