The Tibet Fallout and the Olympics

The ultimate fallout from the ongoing unrest and subsequent crackdown in Tibetan areas is not yet known, but already recent events have had some impact on the upcoming Beijing Olympics. Propaganda chiefs have become concerned over what might happen during broadcasts of this summer’s Olympics, and authorities have apparently banned live broadcasts from Tiananmen Square, according to AP:

Like the Olympics, live broadcasts from Tiananmen Square were meant to showcase a friendly, confident China — one that had put behind it the deadly 1989 military assault on democracy demonstrators in the vast plaza that remains a defining image for many foreigners.

“Tiananmen is the face of China, the face of Beijing so many broadcasters would like to do live or recorded coverage of the square,” said Yosuke Fujiwara, the head of broadcast relations for the Beijing Olympic Broadcasting Co., or BOB, a joint-venture between Beijing Olympic organizers and an IOC subsidiary. BOB coordinates and provides technical services for the TV networks with rights to broadcast the Olympics, such as NBC.

Earlier this week, however, officials with the Beijing Olympics Organizing Committee, or BOCOG, told executives at BOB that the live shots were canceled, according to three people familiar with the matter who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Also, the Washington Post reports on human rights groups that are renewing pressure on sponsors for the Beijing Olympics in the wake of the Tibet unrest:

Amid a widening crackdown in the remote Himalayan province, human rights organizations have renewed demands that Coca-Cola, Visa, General Electric and other international companies explain their dealings with the Communist government as it prepares to host the Summer Games.

Many of those companies have invested millions of dollars in enterprises associated with the Olympics, traditionally a venue for both mass marketing and political protest. But China’s poor human rights record poses a special challenge for companies seeking to capitalize on a worldwide audience while maintaining reputations as good global citizens.

Sponsors are talking privately to Olympics organizers, turning to PR companies for more help and meeting with each other in an effort to plot strategy, according to activists and advisers. No companies are considering pulling out yet, but many know that this is just the beginning of a concentrated push by a variety of interest groups.


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