Olympic Censorship Concerns


The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is said to be concerned about censorship linked to the Beijing Olympic Games. Some European leaders are calling for boycotts of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games if Beijng engages in censorship.

Concern was raised by French public broadcasting executives about the censorship of protests at the torch-lighting ceremony in Greece last week. Broadcast of the ceremony was disrupted after members of the Reporters Without Borders group threw a protest banner at Liu Qi, the president of the Beijing Games Organizing Committee. According to the Financial Times, the IOC has now asked China for assurances that there will be no delays in the transmission of the games.

According to reports, France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, said last week that he will consult with European Union leaders about the possibility of a boycott of the opening ceremony. “At the time of the Olympics, I will be in the presidency of the European Union, so I have to sound out and consult my fellow members to see whether or not we should boycott.’

The FT indicates that France Televisions executives have taken the issue up with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), seeking a guarantee from China that there will be no interruptions in live Olympics coverage, even if protests persist. Beijing Olympic Broadcasting will be providing the TV feeds to outlets worldwide.

The turmoil in Tibet has had human rights activists place pressure on the IOC. The organisation’s president, Jacques Rogge, issued a statement earlier this week noting: “Awarding the Olympic Games to the most populous country in the world will open up one-fifth of mankind to Olympism. We believe that China will change by opening the country to the scrutiny of the world through the 25,000 media who will attend the games. The Olympic Games are a force for good. They are a catalyst for change, not a panacea for all ills. NGOs and human rights activists want to leverage the games and ask the IOC to act along by their side. The IOC is undoubtedly respectful of human rights.

“The IOC respects NGOs and activist groups and their causes, and speaks regularly with them—but we are neither a political nor an activist organisation. The events in Tibet are a matter of great concern to the IOC. The IOC has already expressed the hope that this conflict should be resolved peacefully as soon as possible. Violence for whatever reason is contrary to the Olympic values and spirit. The IOC will continue to respect human rights. The IOC will work tirelessly with China for the welfare of the athletes and the success of the Olympic Games.’


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