Beijing, IOC welcome media to the Censorship Games

posted at 9:00 am on August 1, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Beijing has broken its promise to the IOC and to the media, according to the International Herald Tribune’s report from earlier this week.  When reporters arrived at the cushy digs provided by the Chinese government for coverage of the Olympics, they noticed a special addition to their Internet service … Big Brother.  And guess who was complicit in the arrangement:

The Chinese government confirmed Wednesday what journalists arriving at the lavishly outfitted media center here had suspected: Contrary to previous assurances by Olympic and government officials, the Internet would be censored during the upcoming games.

Since the Olympic Village press center opened Friday, reporters have been unable to access scores of Web pages – politically sensitive ones that discuss Tibetan succession, Taiwanese independence, the violent crackdown of the protests in Tiananmen Square and the sites of Amnesty International, Radio Free Asia and several Hong Kong newspapers known for their freewheeling political discourse.

On Wednesday – two weeks after its most recent proclamation of an uncensored Internet during the Summer Games – the International Olympic Committee quietly agreed to some of the limitations, according to Kevan Gosper, chairman of the IOC press commission, Reuters reported.

China told the media that they had provided “convenient and sufficient” Internet access, which of course means “convenient and sufficient” for Beijing, not the reporters. This is nothing more than a bait-and-switch scam, as the Chinese government repeatedly promised uncensored access to the Internet for at least the international media covering the Games.  With the media already arriving, the change comes very late for media organizations that have committed massive resources to their coverage of the Olympics.

No one should be terribly surprised by this crass, dishonest move by Beijing.  However, the IOC should be publicly shamed for selling out to the Chinese.  Not only did they award the Games to an oppressive regime, but they now have capitulated on freedom for the second time.  They had assured the media that they had arranged for free and full access to the Internet, and now they have become complicit in China’s oppression.

How does that fit with the ideals of the Olympiad?  The IOC has revealed itself as a collection of cowards and toadies.  Shame on them — and shame on the media outlets that don’t pack up and leave now, rather than contribute to Beijing’s propaganda event.

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I’m sure they’ll make up for the lack of internet access with an abundance of…lead.

robblefarian on August 1, 2008 at 9:17 AM

If there are any staged protests during the Olympics, things could get even more messy if the Chinese attempt to censor any outgoing reports or even pull the plug on live TV coverage, the way they did back in 1989.

jon1979 on August 1, 2008 at 9:18 AM

This is an exception right? Not like they would welch on more important negotiations right? This should not blemish their long standing reputation of being trustworthy…right?

javamartini on August 1, 2008 at 9:19 AM

Between the pollution, censorship, blatant oppression, protestors, etc. my prediction is that China won’t get the favorable image that they have been attempting to cultivate.

As to the IOC, it is just the UN for athletes.

highhopes on August 1, 2008 at 9:20 AM

Complaints about the oppressive regime would sound somewhat sincere if China didn’t have preferred trade status with the US. Making money off oppressed people is fine. Running together – this is where we draw a line.

Even still, there is a way to pressure the Chinese. The US team can threaten to withdraw from the games. As of now, there is nothing coming from the US government that would make China think they will have to pay in any shape of form for the decision to censor the Game.

freevillage on August 1, 2008 at 9:21 AM

I hope the wealthier higher-tech journalists can share their work-arounds with the other journalists when needed. The Chinese can’t stop satellite communication.

RBMN on August 1, 2008 at 9:26 AM

That’s right, IOC, you go on telling Iraq how saddened you are by their government “interference” in sports and how you’re going to bar them from the games for doing so.

Kafir on August 1, 2008 at 9:30 AM

“Ouch! What’s this little plastic thing with the tiny antenna sewn into the special souvenir jockstrap they issued me?”

whitetop on August 1, 2008 at 9:30 AM

Don’t you think that this just what needed to happen? People have been saying all these things for years but have been ignored now they will actually go over and live with it. That being said, I am still glad the Olympics are in China because until people are faced with and inconvienced with what is going on in that country they just blame the U.S.. I am waiting breathlessly to hear about the polution and the KEOTO (? is that right) Treaty.

Cindy Munford on August 1, 2008 at 9:32 AM

I say boycott CHINA in toto!

TheSitRep on August 1, 2008 at 9:34 AM

The IOC has revealed itself as a collection of cowards and toadies. Shame on them — and shame on the media outlets that don’t pack up and leave now

…& shame on Obamarxist Obamaoist for buying huge chunks of Olympic advertising time.

jgapinoy on August 1, 2008 at 9:34 AM

Why does the IOC get tons of scorn, but Google gets a pass? At least the IOC didn’t help the Chi-Coms oppress & censor.

jgapinoy on August 1, 2008 at 9:36 AM

On a technical level, BFD. All news organizations would presumable use VPN (virtual private networking) technology to create secure links back to their headquarters. China’s firewall has no idea what traffic is going over a VPN connection – they can surf whatever they want over it.

ErikTheRed on August 1, 2008 at 9:38 AM

Let’s open up the Chineses internet get our best hackers on this now…

CliffHanger on August 1, 2008 at 9:50 AM

This is a public relations blunder for the Chinese gov’t. This dumb move coupled together w/the filthy polluted air. There must be an element within the Chinese leadership that will recognize the negative effects of this and will push more towards real solutions. They have to know that they can not hide these shortfalls. Like sweeping dirt under the rug to hide it. Pandora’s box has been opened in China. Folks there have seen the advantages and prosperity brought on by freedom. And they want it. I don’t see how the Chinese gov’t thinks they can continue to suppress that.
I wonder how we can help the Chinese continue to transition towards freedom. What could we do? How can we encourage them? DD

Darvin Dowdy on August 1, 2008 at 9:53 AM

If there was so much as a shred of decency in the IOC, they would immediately announce that due to China breaking its agreement, that the Games are officially cancelled and that China is now banned from any future Olympic competitions.

I mean, what is China going to do, throw a hissy fit at the UN? Let ’em!

pilamaye on August 1, 2008 at 9:59 AM

At the closing cerimonies, the head of the IOC will say,

I was told to say that is was the best Games in all of Olympic History, ever!

DaveC on August 1, 2008 at 10:01 AM

You can bet there will be no protests at the games. Why do you think they have all those machine gun toting special forces units stationed all over the city. Hint: It has nothing to do with preventing terrorist attacks.

fleiter on August 1, 2008 at 10:34 AM

On this note, from one of my favorite bloggers:

“The asparagus here is definitely amazing.”

hoosiermama on August 1, 2008 at 10:39 AM

These Olympics have the dubious destinction of being the most disgraceful games since 1936. Congrats to the IOC.

Verbal Abuse on August 1, 2008 at 10:41 AM

I’d be a little wary if I were an Olympic athlete headed to China.

Grafted on August 1, 2008 at 11:56 AM

But the Atlanta games were run by some backwater hicks, right IOC?

You can have your ChiComm lovefest. I’m not watching a minute of this year’s games.

Techie on August 1, 2008 at 12:14 PM

Who’s bright idea was it to have the games in China in the first place. WHAT AN IDIOT!!!!!!

dalec on August 1, 2008 at 12:44 PM

My wife and I have a small informal poll going: How many people do you think will be arrested as spies before the games are over? I am at 8. She says 2.

TimothyJ on August 1, 2008 at 1:10 PM

Trash the Chinese gov, guys. Start filing story after story on how they censor the net. Keep it coming, get yourself tossed out if you can.

mojo on August 1, 2008 at 1:40 PM

As to the IOC, it is just the UN for athletes.

highhopes on August 1, 2008 at 9:20 AM

Ooooh, that’s gotta leave a mark!

cthulhu on August 1, 2008 at 2:15 PM

Holding the olympics in a country run by an oppressive government, complete with censorship is totally stupid. Would the IOC condone holding the olympics in Nazi Germany?
/historical irony

rmgraha on August 1, 2008 at 6:20 PM

I stopped caring about the Olympics ever since they dropped the ban on professional atheletes. It was and always should be for amature atheletes only! Just because the Soviets and their allies would bend the rules and slide in professionals, didn’t mean that we had to compromise our standards and ethics. Go back to amatures only or just drop the games totally.

DAT60A3 on August 1, 2008 at 6:21 PM

I wont watch a single minute of the Chicomlympics, from opening to closing.

Mike D. on August 1, 2008 at 6:22 PM

As much as I hate to say it, anyone who couldn’t see this coming 7 years ago when they selected China to host the Olympics in 2008 must have been H.U.A.

Their dismal Human Rights record and ongoing violations of civil rights wasn’t enough of a tell at the get-go?

As much as I hate to do it, I’m boycotting the Olympics this year. We won’t watch it in this house. Not one minute. There will be no Olympics Memorabilia/Collectibles purchased. I already avoid, to the best of my ability, the purchase of goods imported from or made in China anyway… but it’s damn hard to. Practically everything sold in America has the stench of China’s Communism and Human Rights atrocity’s attached to it.

SilverStar830 on August 1, 2008 at 6:27 PM