BRUSSELS - A crackdown on fans returning from the Beijing Olympics with unofficial merchandise or counterfeit goods will be launched ahead of this year's Games, a top customs official said on Thursday.
Five Fuwa-decorated pins are on show at the Beijing International Conference Center, Jan. 8, 2008. A crackdown on fans returning from the Beijing Olympics with unofficial merchandise or counterfeit goods will be launched ahead of this year's Games, a top customs official said on Thursday. [Agencies]
Christophe Zimmermann, head of the World Customs Organisation's counterfeiting and piracy unit said the offensive would not only target fans as they left China but when they arrived at ports or airports in their home countries.
"I can not reveal the details for security reasons, but we will be launching a new operation for Beijing and the Olympics," Zimmermann told Reuters.
He warned that fans caught with any counterfeit products on their return -- particularly in Europe -- would face heavy fines and possibly imprisonment if found guilty.
"Even if you are found with the smallest item, even just one item, you will face at least a fine. Of course, if you stock up then it will be more serious," Zimmermann said.
"My message to fans that buy these fakes, is to take care when you come back because there is a very good chance you will be caught.
Zimmermann said customs officers outside China would be tracking flights arriving from the Asian country in the run-up to the Games and after they finish, checking extensively for unlawful goods.
"We are confident our operation with the help of the Chinese authorities will prove successful. But the main focus will be convincing the consumer not to buy the unofficial-licensed merchandise in the first place."