IOC: China Should Not Prevent Media from Reporting

AP reports on a press conference by the and the Beijing Organizing Committee:

IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said journalists should not be prevented from doing their jobs, a day after John Ray of London-based ITV News said he was wrestled to the ground and briefly held by police who apparently mistook him for a protester.

“The IOC does disapprove of any attempts to hinder a journalist who is going about doing his job seemingly within the rules and regulations,” Davies told a daily press briefing. “This, we hope, has been addressed. We don’t want to see this happening again.”

The incident raised concerns that Beijing was not fulfilling its pledge to give foreign media unrestricted access to report on the games.

Meanwhile, Tim Johnson recounts an exchange between Davies and journalist Alex Thompson of Channel Four News after she failed to answer his question: “Given that China got these games largely on making promises on human rights and , and given that the Chinese government has lied through its teeth about keeping those promises, is the IOC in any way embarrassed?”:

Thompson: I don’t think anyone in this room, if I may speak, I may be stepping out of line, but I don’t think anybody thinks you’ve answered the question. Is the IOC embarrassed about the Chinese government not keeping those promises?

Davies: We’re very pleased with how the organizers are putting on a good sporting event. That’s what this is. The IOC’s role and remit is to bring sport and the Olympic values to this country. That is what is happening, and the organizers have put on an operationally sound games for the athletes. This is an event, first and foremost, for the athletes, and the athletes are giving us extremely positive feedback about how they see these games being held for them.

Thompson: Well, Giselle, we’re certainly not getting anywhere are we? Let’s try it once more time. Is the IOC embarrassed about the Chinese government’s not keeping promises on both press freedom and human rights? One more chance.

Davies: Well, I think probably your colleagues in the room would like to have a chance at questions as well. I think I’ve answered your question.

Read Richard Spencer of The Telegraph’s take on the press conference as well as a full transcript courtesy of the BOCOG. Read also about restrictions placed on domestic journalists covering the Games, via the CPJ blog. For a list of the specific restrictions, see this translation from The Age.

August 14, 2008, 2:55 PM
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