MCLEAN, Va. – The Chinese government, concerned about the possibility of demonstrations during the Beijing Olympics, created a list of nine U.S. athletes and one assistant coach it thought might cause problems, USA Today reported Thursday.
The newspaper obtained an internal U.S. Olympic Committee e-mail in which a Chinese official expressed concern that members of the U.S. team might stage some sort of demonstration.
The list was given to the USOC during a meeting July 8 with Shu Xiao, minister counselor for cultural affairs at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, the e-mail said.
Shu was concerned that some of the athletes have been affiliated with Team Darfur, an international coalition of athletes committed to raising awareness about the human rights crisis in Sudan's Darfur region, according to the email.
The athletes included softball players Jennie Finch, Jessica Mendoza, Natasha Watley, Amanda Freed, and softball assistant coach Karen Johns; soccer player Abby Wambach; cyclist Jonathan Page; paralympic basketball player Jen Howitt; paralympic wheelchair racer Cheri Blauwet; and golfer Laura Goodwin.
Wambach was injured and did not compete in the Olympics. Goodwin did not compete because golf is not an Olympic sport.
Sun Weide, who was one of the spokesmen for the Beijing Organizing Committee, told The Associated Press that he had resigned his position and declined to comment.
Much of the committee has been dissolved more than two months after the Games.
USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel told USA Today in an e-mail Wednesday that the concerns were "entirely unjustified and unwarranted."
"As such, we rejected the request to address this with our athletes," Seibel told the newspaper. "We saw absolutely no need to burden our athletes with this."