Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Media critical as Beijing Olympics near

Anti-terror police on Segways

The IOC has praised Chinese efforts to complete everything ahead of next months Olympic Games. IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies speaking on CNN said “everything was ready”. But not everyone is entirely happy. Many media organisation have aired frustrations and anger over Beijing’s failure to meet the promised relaxation on reporting [Business Week]. "I think this free reporting will be a problem for everyone,'' said Johannes Hano, East Asia bureau chief of Germany's ZDF television. In the first week of July police barged into an interview being conducted by Johannes Hano on the Great Wall that was being transmitted live to Germany.
"They will stop you even if you have permission. It will be the biggest problem. There is no freedom of press as they promised,'' he said. But press freedom is only one of many concerns highlight on CNN today.

Many of China’s athletes have no time to relax and some have raised concerns over how hard they’re pushed. Channel Four News and the BBC World Service both ran stories about how many athletes are being overworked. The Channel Four report, rebroadcast on CNN, looked at the gruelling training regimes that many athletes had to endure in order to help China secure as many gold medals as possible. Many officials have pressured trainers saying that silver and bronze medal were simply not good enough.
The issue of human rights is never far away and many groups have expressed concern over both George Bush and Nicholas Sarkozy announcing their intention to attend the opening ceremony. Reporters without Borders have criticised the French president’s announcement saying it was “truly cowardly and not what one expects of France”. Reporters Without Borders have also called for world wide demonstrations on the 8th August. “The occasional good news, such as the unblocking of access to certain foreign websites and the reopening of Tibet, have been eclipsed by a series of outrageous arrests and increased surveillance of human rights activists,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The Olympic infrastructure is in place, but police controls have been stepped up, the Internet is still censored, international radio stations are jammed and Beijing’s air is still polluted.”

And indeed the air is still thick with a grey smog that hangs over Beijing. CNN’s John Vause reported that the view from his 30th floor apartment was almost invisible despite valiant efforts by authorities to clear the air. The army has been firing silver iodine into the clouds in an attempt to bring rain. Factories have shut down and the numbers of cars on the roads has been reduced. But so far there has been little major effect. Despite concerns that Beijing authorities have over possible demonstrations, acts of terrorism or even awkward journalists, the biggest problem may just be the weather and the pollution.

No comments: