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Olympic Athletes Advised to Leave Phones at Home 

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Beyond Omicron and gold medal tallies, athletes arriving in China’s capital for the Winter Games next month may have one more thing to worry about: is it safe to access the internet? Beijing has promised the world’s top athletes access to a partially unfettered internet during the Olympics starting February 4, dropping the Great Firewall that blocks services like Facebook and YouTube at official venues and hotels. But security experts say there are reasons to exercise caution.

Chinese companies that specialize in data collection, surveillance and artificial intelligence are among the official sponsors and suppliers for the Winter Olympics. But experts are concerned that the Chinese government or the country’s cyber-crooks could use the designated Wi-Fi bubbles to snoop on private communications or even install malware onto personal devices. That could in turn open up contacts to subsequent attack.

Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Canada are among the countries that are advising athletes to keep their devices off Wi-Fi networks and use burner phones if possible. And the U.S. has issued a warning to American athletes that their devices may also be compromised with malicious software, with unknown consequences for future use.