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Police harassment of critics of Vancouver Olympics is protested

Coventry Declaration approved by Play the Game delegates 12 June 2009

The Coventry Declaration was approved by conference delegates at Play the Game 2009, the sixth world communications conference on sport and society. The declaration calls upon the Canadian Government and Olympic authorities to state their commitment to ensuring all Canadians and those visiting Canada will have their fundamental right to security of the person and freedom of expression protected as guaranteed by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The audience at Play the Game was taken by surprise in the last session of the conference when the Canadian professor Chris Shaw revealed that he had experienced trouble entering Britain on his way to speak in Coventry. Upon his arrival Chris Shaw was held back by British authorities and questioned for an hour about the purpose of his visit.

Chris Shaw, who works as a professor of ophthalmology at the University of British Columbia, has written the book “Five Ring Circus: Myths and Realities of the Olympic Games” in which he questions the value of hosting Olympic events such as the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver in Canada.

In the subsequent debate, his compatriot and investigative reporter Laura Robinson added that in the first week of June, Chris Shaw had been confronted by two police officers in Vancouver who questioned him about his book, presumably because they found parts in it that they did not like. Chris Shaw confirmed this incident.

This led Laura Robinson to suggest that a declaration in favour of the legal right of Chris Shaw and anybody else to speak freely about the Vancouver Olympics.

The following declaration was read aloud and approved of as the last act of Play the Game 2009:

Declaration text in full

The expression of ideas through the written or spoken word is fundamental to democracy and the rights of all individuals and groups. The right to express one’s self through words is a pillar of a civil and democratic society.

During the first week of June 2009, author Chris Shaw was confronted by two police officers in the city of Vancouver where the 2010 Winter Olympics will be held.

The police told him they wanted to talk to him about his book, “Five Ring Circus”, a critical analysis of the Vancouver Games.

They persisted to question him over a period of time.

During the first week of June, twenty individuals who had questioned the Olympic Games were visited by police officers in their home, workplace or while going about their business.

Participants at Play the Game condemn, in the strongest manner possible, any action in Canada that in any way, shape, or form harasses, intimidates, or threatens any writers or individuals who express ideas through words.

Participants at Play the Game ask the city of Vancouver, the province of British Columbia, the Canadian government, VANOC, and the Vancouver Integrated Security Unit, to state in unequivocal language, that all Canadians and those who visit Canada, will have their fundamental right to:

1. Security of the person
2. Freedom of expression

protected, respected and unimpinged as Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees.

See also: Olympic Resistance Network

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